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Warden Zhir
2013-07-29, 10:28 AM
So I live under a rock and just found out about Planescape Torment and its apparent successor Tides of Numenera. I checked out Planescape as a campaign and I immediately loved it.

I liked Eberron because of its compelling mixture between fantasy, modern times and the 1900s. Also because you get to do crazy stuff like HALFLINGS ON DINOSAURS.

But Planescape is on a completely different level than Eberron. The many factions that fight for the planes, the mysterious Lady of Pain, the fuzzy blue and orange morality, the fact that the creepy nihilist emo guys are working at a soup kitchen for the homeless, and the philosophical meanings behind them all.

If Planescape was such a great campaign (at least to some people), why has it never made it to 3e?

Yora
2013-07-29, 10:49 AM
Probably because almost none of the 2nd Edition settings was remade for 3rd Edition. Forgotten Realms is really the only one.
Dragonlance got one book and Ravenloft got licensed to another company, but all the other settings didn't get anything at all. Dragonlance only came back at a later point in 4th Edition. Spelljammer, Birthright, and Greyhawk didn't get anything. (Though Greyhawk wasn't really substentially supported even in 2nd Edition.)

tensai_oni
2013-07-29, 11:01 AM
Spelljammer, Birthright, and Greyhawk didn't get anything. (Though Greyhawk wasn't really substentially supported even in 2nd Edition.)

Uhh, sorry? Greyhawk was the default setting for 3rd ed.

Also Planescape kinda came back with the Manual of the Planes, but that book totally did not do it justice.

Yora
2013-07-29, 11:07 AM
Some random pieces of flavor text in 3rd Edition were taken from Greyhawk. Mostly it was just random names without any information of what they refer to.

I read almost all 3rd Edition books and I don't know anything about what countries and cities exist in that world, what races there are and what their culture is, or anything regarding it's history.

Big Fau
2013-07-29, 11:07 AM
Because WotC didn't think spaceships were cool enough to be in 3E.

In all seriousness, it may have been a licensing issue. The video game may have tied up the publication rights for some unknown reason, and WotC had to wait for the rights to expire to pick it back up.

Eldan
2013-07-29, 12:45 PM
Manual of the Planes is not Planescape. It describes places that also were in Planescape books, that's not the same.

See, Planescape isn't really dependent on any places. Sure, the planes as described are interesting. But you could run a campaign with most of Planescape's themes in entirely different settings and it would still be noticeably Planescape. It doesn't matter for Planescape how cold Stygia is or how hot the plane of fire.

Similarly, sure, we had a three sentence description of Vecna in the PHB. But that's not Greyhawk. I mean, I know nothing about Greyhawk, except for the names and domains of some of the gods, but I assume there's more to it than that. I couldn't name a single nation or city in that setting, or what it's main conflicts are.

DeltaEmil
2013-07-29, 01:03 PM
According to Ryan Dancey, despite the high praise for it, Planescape wasn't actually that popular with the Pen&Paper-crowd. The products were high-quality, but didn't sell enough to warrant the cost, and the P&P folks didn't like the slang.

That's why Planescape remains a niche.

VariSami
2013-07-29, 01:09 PM
Dragonlance got one book
I believe there were quite a few more than that. Case in point. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dragonlance_modules_and_sourcebooks#3rd_Ed ition_Dragonlance_Sourcebooks)

Regarding Planescape... Well, there are quite a few allusions in 3rd edition material. Besides Manual of the Planes, Planar Handbook has prestige classes for faction members. Complete Scoundrel has the Free League as an organization. Deities and Demigods has proxies (I think) and petitioners. Expedition to the Demonweb Pits has some scenes in Sigil and provides us with stats for the Dabus, Cambions and Rule-of-Three as well as a map of the Styx Oarsman. The setting can be reconstructed to some degree, although I agree that the 2nd edition books are invaluable resources for fluff.

Having DM'd a 3.X game of Planescape, I think that there is really nothing to stop it. Surely there were reasons for not officially republishing the setting - legal matters, I assume. However, with resources such as Planewalker (http://www.planewalker.com/), it is no reason to refrain from playing Planescape campaigns in 3rd edition.

BWR
2013-07-29, 01:10 PM
Dragonlance (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dragonlance_modules_and_sourcebooks#3rd_Ed ition_Dragonlance_Sourcebooks)actually had more than one 3.x book.

Kaerou
2013-07-29, 01:19 PM
Dragonlance was always amazingly popular, but wotc really built its coffin with the 'new age' thing. Its unsurpising it wasn't made into 3e due to the new age kind of kicking all its fans in the teeth.

As for planescape.. amazing video game / novel material, but all the slang really harmed its P&P group playability.

Big Fau
2013-07-29, 01:20 PM
Dragonlance (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dragonlance_modules_and_sourcebooks#3rd_Ed ition_Dragonlance_Sourcebooks)actually had more than one 3.x book.

But all of them beyond the campaign setting were designed by a 3rd party company.

JadedDM
2013-07-29, 01:30 PM
There's a lot of people who believe that the reason TSR went bankrupt during 2E was they spread themselves way too thin with so many different campaign settings. That's why later editions only had two, maybe three tops. WotC is not anxious to risk repeating that mistake.

Greyhawk was the default for 3E, and they upgraded Forgotten Realms; and Eberron was created solely for 3E (won a contest, I believe, much to the Giant's chagrin).

WotC licensed the Dragonlance setting to Sovereign Press (which is owned by Margaret Weis, one of the co-creators of the setting). That's where all the 3E books came from for Dragonlance. Sadly, once 4E was about to come out, WotC didn't renew the license, so no new books can be made.

Every other setting, though, did receive unofficial fan-translations. Spelljammer has Beyond the Moons (http://www.spelljammer.org/). Planescape got Planewalker (http://www.planewalker.com/). I'm afraid I don't know the sites for the other settings, but they are out there.

Eldan
2013-07-29, 02:08 PM
According to Ryan Dancey, despite the high praise for it, Planescape wasn't actually that popular with the Pen&Paper-crowd. The products were high-quality, but didn't sell enough to warrant the cost, and the P&P folks didn't like the slang.

That's why Planescape remains a niche.

I've heard that complaint about the slang. If there's one thing you can easily kick from the setting, it's the cant. It's a cute piece of fluff, but entirely unnecessary.

Terraoblivion
2013-07-29, 02:26 PM
Some random pieces of flavor text in 3rd Edition were taken from Greyhawk. Mostly it was just random names without any information of what they refer to.

I read almost all 3rd Edition books and I don't know anything about what countries and cities exist in that world, what races there are and what their culture is, or anything regarding it's history.

Living Greyhawk Gazeteer was released right at the start of 3rd Edition and was essentially a brief setting book about the various gods, countries and so on of Greyhawk. I'm thumping through it right now and it reads just as dull as I remember it being back when I got it as a teen.

DonEsteban
2013-07-29, 03:01 PM
There's a lot of people who believe that the reason TSR went bankrupt during 2E was they spread themselves way too thin with so many different campaign settings. That's why later editions only had two, maybe three tops. WotC is not anxious to risk repeating that mistake.
That's what I heard, too. I think it's probable, but would be interested in any reliable sources to confirm it.

And I think the cant is actually the coolest thing in Planescape. And it can hardly be the reason for discontinuing the product, berk! ;)

Yora
2013-07-29, 03:04 PM
I've heard that complaint about the slang. If there's one thing you can easily kick from the setting, it's the cant. It's a cute piece of fluff, but entirely unnecessary.

I think the key is not to overdo it. When the GMs knows some basic cant and mixes it in with the normal dialogs when talking with NPCs, it's really easy to catch the meaning of the terms.

That's how everyone of us non-native english speakers learned the more ucommon words of English. :smallbiggrin:

...berk.

jedipotter
2013-07-29, 04:59 PM
If Planescape was such a great campaign (at least to some people), why has it never made it to 3e?


Money. That is the reason.

See if something says 'planescape' on it, then only fans of that setting will buy it. But if the book says 'useable in any D&D game' then all gamers will buy it.

This is why Races of Eberron is a 'normal' game book and not an Eberron game book.

And they wanted 3e to be fresh and new.

Oh and Planescape was considered 'too hard' for the 3e target gamers....the teens.

Craft (Cheese)
2013-07-29, 06:09 PM
I think the key is not to overdo it. When the GMs knows some basic cant and mixes it in with the normal dialogs when talking with NPCs, it's really easy to catch the meaning of the terms.

Speak for yourself, I finished Torment still having no idea what "cutter" was supposed to mean.

Eldan
2013-07-29, 06:19 PM
Cutter: a compliment. Resourceful or daring person.

"Hey, you sass that blood Adahn? There's a cutter who really knows where his Mimir is."

kyoryu
2013-07-29, 06:39 PM
Because WotC shifted the strategy from "Selling books to GMs" to "Selling books to players".

And settings are very definitely GM-focused products.

Legend
2013-07-29, 09:28 PM
I've heard that complaint about the slang. If there's one thing you can easily kick from the setting, it's the cant. It's a cute piece of fluff, but entirely unnecessary.People buy games (and settings) as they are, though. No matter how much the online gaming crowd says "you can just refluff it," the vast majority of the actual gaming public buys games as they are, not as a framework of rules with skins that can be swapped out. Unless that's built into the game (a la Gurps or Hero System), it's not how people think of games. The objections to Planescape are a good example of this.

Joe the Rat
2013-07-29, 10:55 PM
For the record, Greyhawk most definitely made it to 3 and 3.5. The Dads an Daughters group I'm in is using the Living Greyhawk rule set - the one that was supposed to run the world-wide tourney setting. (Our DM is using it for balance and management reasons - and no bickering about treasure splits for the young'uns, even if it breaks verisimilitude a bit).


Planescape was one of those settings that had awesome set pieces, an (at the time) clever spin on the usual fantasy tropes, Secret Societies of Cosmological Bent the likes of which we haven't seen since the days of Alignment Languages, a cosmopolitan bent (via Sigil), and it threw wide the doors of continuity crossovers and insane party compositions like never before (A half-dragon, mind flayer, more-psychically endowed than the mind flayer half-ogre, a gnome, and a cambion Dustman adventuring group is only considered 'mildly interesting' - because the half-ogre is wearing a mimir[i] like a medallion).

It was a difficult setting to really do justice. I'm not talkin' about the Cant. I mean the setting in full. You kind of want to capture the full panoply of the setting, but there is literally too much to do. You either end up running a subset of events that would not be all that out of place in a more typical setting, or you risk running into the "plane of the week" pattern of disjointed adventures.


I think the key is not to overdo it. When the GMs knows some basic cant and mixes it in with the normal dialogs when talking with NPCs, it's really easy to catch the meaning of the terms.

That's how everyone of us non-native english speakers learned the more ucommon words of English. :smallbiggrin:

...berk.D&D (And roleplaying games in general) is how a generation of [i]native english speakers learned some of the more uncommon words if English. Planescape just had a tendency to veer into A Clockwork Orange.

Eldan
2013-07-30, 03:20 AM
Except Clockwork Orange teaches you Russian, not English.

Ashtagon
2013-07-30, 07:09 AM
Not counting Dragon magazine articles,


Birthright: Nada :smallfurious:
Blackmoor: Small amount of 3pp stuff :smallannoyed:
Dark Sun: Nada :smallfurious:
Dragonlance: One book in 3.0, plus a dozen or so 3pp books. :smallsmile:
Eberron: About 2 dozen books. :smallsmile:
Forgotten Realms: Countless books. :smallsmile:
Al-Qadim: Nada :smallfurious:
Kara-Tur: Nada :smallfurious:
Maztica: Nada :smallfurious:
Greyhawk: two books in 3.0, none in 3.5. :smallannoyed:
Mystara: nada :smallfurious:
Ravenloft: About a dozen 3pp books. :smallsmile:
Spelljammer: Nada :smallfurious:

VariSami
2013-07-30, 08:27 AM
Regarding the previous list... Do the "Expedition to X" not count, since they include Expedition to Castle Ravenloft and Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk? At least Expedition to the Demonweb Pits includes quite a bit of crunch, enought in my books to justify buying it even though I will probably never run the adventure. (I did get it dirt cheap, though...)

Asmodai
2013-07-30, 09:00 AM
All the 3e "Planescape" stuff doesn't really count. Planescape never was about monsters and killing them, it was about a unique cosmopolitan feel of a setting where everythign is possible and traditional precepts of D&D are placed on its head. A place where Demons can be good and Angles bad, where a Daeva can be beggars on the street and where Gods are just another type of folks you encounter.

Nothing in 3E ever came close to the quirkyness and joy of Planescape. It's a shame they never bothered with it, but jeff Grub has said before that the myriad settings were the downfall of TSR and that Planescape was too much on the fringe once d20 came around. If you want to integrate your player base around a single experience and ruleset, you cannot really fill their heads and distract them with stuff that's utterly beyond all expectations of what D&D should be.

For myself... Planescape was glorious and still is. I love the books and try to complete my collection. I've even recently started a Planescape Heist game based on the rules for Adventure!.

Ashtagon
2013-07-30, 11:34 AM
Regarding the previous list... Do the "Expedition to X" not count, since they include Expedition to Castle Ravenloft and Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk? At least Expedition to the Demonweb Pits includes quite a bit of crunch, enought in my books to justify buying it even though I will probably never run the adventure. (I did get it dirt cheap, though...)

Even if we count those books towards their respective settings, that would change my smiley categorisation levels. The level of detail given in any one adventure book on the campaign setting itself is quite small, and you'd really need a complete setting book to be able to relate it to much outside the scope of the presented adventure itself.

Scots Dragon
2013-07-30, 11:42 AM
Not counting Dragon magazine articles,


Birthright: Nada :smallfurious:
Blackmoor: Small amount of 3pp stuff :smallannoyed:
Dark Sun: Nada :smallfurious:
Dragonlance: One book in 3.0, plus a dozen or so 3pp books. :smallsmile:
Eberron: About 2 dozen books. :smallsmile:
Forgotten Realms: Countless books. :smallsmile:
Al-Qadim: Nada :smallfurious:
Kara-Tur: Nada :smallfurious:
Maztica: Nada :smallfurious:
Greyhawk: two books in 3.0, none in 3.5. :smallannoyed:
Mystara: nada :smallfurious:
Ravenloft: About a dozen 3pp books. :smallsmile:
Spelljammer: Nada :smallfurious:


I don't think Eberron counts. It was a setting created for 3.5e.

Another setting you might have forgotten is Council of Wyrms, which was a dragon-focused setting allowing you to create draconic characters. And by that, I mean all fifteen of the 'core' dragons being available for use; the chromatic, metallic and gem dragons, to be precise.

Grod_The_Giant
2013-07-30, 11:46 AM
Still and all, if the value is in the fluff, all the 2e books can still be useful. You'll need to re-stat important NPCs, I suppose, but there's no reason you can't recycle everything else.

navar100
2013-07-30, 01:15 PM
D&D (And roleplaying games in general) is how a generation of native english speakers learned some of the more uncommon words if English. Planescape just had a tendency to veer into A Clockwork Orange.

In "Wolverine" a character used the word "geigin" to describe Logan, and thanks to my reading of Rokugan many years ago I understood what he meant in meaning and context. :smallcool:

Yora
2013-07-30, 02:10 PM
Still and all, if the value is in the fluff, all the 2e books can still be useful. You'll need to re-stat important NPCs, I suppose, but there's no reason you can't recycle everything else.
I think that's the most important strong point of the AD&D settings. They are almost entirely fluff with very few actual rules. All you really need is stats for creatures important to the setting, and very rarely one or two small sub-systems, like fear and horror in Ravenloft or the way magic behaves on other planes in Planescape.
3rd Edition setting book are usually about half races, prestige, classes, feats, and spells, with descriptions of locations and inhabitants only making up the other half.

BWR
2013-07-30, 02:50 PM
I think that's the most important strong point of the AD&D settings. They are almost entirely fluff with very few actual rules. All you really need is stats for creatures important to the setting, and very rarely one or two small sub-systems, like fear and horror in Ravenloft or the way magic behaves on other planes in Planescape.

Preserving/Defiling in Dark Sun
Helms and speed in Spelljammer (plus minutiaw like phlogiston)
Blood powers and various connected elements as well as domain powers in Birthright.

I think those are the most important.

kyoryu
2013-07-30, 03:15 PM
3rd Edition setting book are usually about half races, prestige, classes, feats, and spells, with descriptions of locations and inhabitants only making up the other half.

As I said, with 3rd ed, WotC made the decision to target their books at players rather than GMs.

Fluff is great for GMs. Players have little use for it, but are more than happy to pay $$$ for access to some feats to make them a bit more powerful.

huttj509
2013-07-30, 03:39 PM
In "Wolverine" a character used the word "geigin" to describe Logan, and thanks to my reading of Rokugan many years ago I understood what he meant in meaning and context. :smallcool:

Gaijin: foreigner, outsider, commonly used in a derogatory sense. Compare to Spanish "Gringo."

Ashtagon
2013-07-30, 11:50 PM
I don't think Eberron counts. It was a setting created for 3.5e.

Another setting you might have forgotten is Council of Wyrms, which was a dragon-focused setting allowing you to create draconic characters. And by that, I mean all fifteen of the 'core' dragons being available for use; the chromatic, metallic and gem dragons, to be precise.

I didn't list Council of Wyrms because it gets so little discussion (I run a forum dedicated to old campaign settings, and CoW doesn't even get enough discussion to warrant a separate board there). Other former TSR/WotC setting I didn't list include Pelinore, Gamma World, Masque of the Red Death, and the Mystara sub-settings (Red Steel and Hollow World).

Felhammer
2013-07-31, 12:11 AM
Probably because almost none of the 2nd Edition settings was remade for 3rd Edition. Forgotten Realms is really the only one.
Dragonlance got one book and Ravenloft got licensed to another company, but all the other settings didn't get anything at all. Dragonlance only came back at a later point in 4th Edition. Spelljammer, Birthright, and Greyhawk didn't get anything. (Though Greyhawk wasn't really substentially supported even in 2nd Edition.)

Dragonlance was licensed to Marget Weis' company, who not only produced the main DL rule book but a whole horde of other supplements as well.

Greyhawk had a fair amount of material generated for it but it was almost all through the Living Greyhawk, whose canonicity remains suspect.

Don't forget Dark Sun, which only had a minor update in Dragon.


As I said, with 3rd ed, WotC made the decision to target their books at players rather than GMs.

Fluff is great for GMs. Players have little use for it, but are more than happy to pay $$$ for access to some feats to make them a bit more powerful.

Which is why even books that were clearly targeted at DMs included feats, spells and PrCs. :smallfrown:

DragonclawExia
2013-07-31, 06:22 AM
If I had to make a wild guess, actually making a campaign for it would be difficult.

Too many "eldritch" concepts for the average player to understand, and actually making it go anywhere is difficult.

It's also hard to make a non-Epic Goal, since the most immediate reason for going to so many planes in the first place would be to stop a Multiversal Threat to all existence.


And I have no idea how you can POSSIBLY balance a battle against such a being, EVEN MORE SO if your also using Epic PC's.

Eldan
2013-07-31, 06:30 AM
Planescape is actually about the opposite. One of the basic points of the setting was exploring the idea of low-level mortals wandering among cosmic beings.

Paseo H
2013-07-31, 06:46 AM
One thing that particularly bothered me about Planescape was the Harmonium, which could essentially be described as Lawful Is Evil, because their origins on their homeworld entailed the chaotic aligned races of their planet being, ahem, 'purged,' and presumably even the Lawful Goods were on board with it. In fact, the factol during the main course of Planescape was a paladin, and overall one got the impression that they took the more Miko-esque route to 'Lawful Good.'

Similarly, I remember at least one adventure where the villains were Lawful Good and were doing terrible things to magical horses called the Nic'epona, for the 'greater good.'

This makes me wonder if maybe people were trying to experiment too much with the boundaries of alignment, and that might have contributed to the setting in a bad way.

Eldan
2013-07-31, 10:29 AM
Lawful in general seems to have suffered a bit in Planescape. Modrons are used as jokes more often than either threats or helpers and lawful good often only seems to be there to show how people of that alignment strain the definitions of "good".

That said, the Harmonium can have many interpretations. I generally run the Sigil branch as generally well-meaning cops who are totally out of their depth, surrounded by crazy philosophers who want to stop them from doing their job, perpetually starved for resources and far down the command chain from a distant, disconnected and only faintly remembered home world full of bureaucrats who regularly send results asking why this entire Sigil business isn't over yet and when they can start the next invasion of the Abyss.

And yes, occasionally, they get sent a new commander who marches out of Orthos full of bright ideas only to be crushed by the reality of the planes, a patrol goes too far and starts harassing, abducting or even killing free leaguers or someone higher up in the chain just snaps and starts thinking slavery and prison camps are the only way to deal with these crazy planars. But they are exceptions.

Paseo H
2013-07-31, 10:44 AM
A far kinder interpretation than me. I usually play them as bullies, with the occasional good/sane one for 'balance.' I also have the Anarchists regularly infiltrating them, with one in particular having engaged in acts of police brutality against minor criminals, innocents, and even her own allies just to make them look bad.

Ashdate
2013-07-31, 11:31 AM
Lawful in general seems to have suffered a bit in Planescape. Modrons are used as jokes more often than either threats or helpers and lawful good often only seems to be there to show how people of that alignment strain the definitions of "good".

I think it's important to recognize a few things about the Harmonium, how the setting treats lawful characters, and alignment:

1) Not all of the Harmonium are Lawful Good. Many are Lawful Neutral, and on the whole, it' the faction's tenancy to place the "law" before the "good" that has led to many of the Harmonium's problems, up to and including losing a layer of Arcadia to Mechanus.

2) There's more to lawful than the Modrons (who incidentally, are shown to be quite terrifying in the Great Modron March). Aside from the Guvners, there's also the Inevitables, solars, and devils. To focus on just one race who looks goofy as representative of the whole alignment is misleading.

3) I think you have to separate the definitional baggage that comes with using the word "good" from the alignment (and same with "evil"). Just because someone is "good" does not make their decisions infallible. This has long been a problem in D&D, but I think it's even more important in this setting to recognize that the upper planes have their dark sides too.

Paseo H
2013-07-31, 12:15 PM
I think it's important to recognize a few things about the Harmonium, how the setting treats lawful characters, and alignment:

1) Not all of the Harmonium are Lawful Good. Many are Lawful Neutral, and on the whole, it' the faction's tenancy to place the "law" before the "good" that has led to many of the Harmonium's problems, up to and including losing a layer of Arcadia to Mechanus.

2) There's more to lawful than the Modrons (who incidentally, are shown to be quite terrifying in the Great Modron March). Aside from the Guvners, there's also the Inevitables, solars, and devils. To focus on just one race who looks goofy as representative of the whole alignment is misleading.

3) I think you have to separate the definitional baggage that comes with using the word "good" from the alignment (and same with "evil"). Just because someone is "good" does not make their decisions infallible. This has long been a problem in D&D, but I think it's even more important in this setting to recognize that the upper planes have their dark sides too.

1. Sure, obviously it was the Lawful Evils and the more hardcore Lawful Neutrals that took right to the purging of the hapless chaotic races, but the Lawful Goods at the very least signed off on it. Also, the factol for most of the setting's run was a paladin, therefore Lawful Good, and would probably be BFFs with Miko if they ever met. So the Lawful Goods of the faction are either cowards who let the Neutrals/Evils have their way, or they're basically fine with whatever atrocities are needed in the name of the faction.

2. Indeed. Alignment does not equal personality.

3. Maybe...but I also think it's a problem of people playing fast and loose with the alignments, in one particular case being "We'll subject sentient creatures to imprisonment and experimentation for the collective good" by the Lawful Good antagonists of that particular adventure.

navar100
2013-07-31, 12:42 PM
One thing that particularly bothered me about Planescape was the Harmonium, which could essentially be described as Lawful Is Evil, because their origins on their homeworld entailed the chaotic aligned races of their planet being, ahem, 'purged,' and presumably even the Lawful Goods were on board with it. In fact, the factol during the main course of Planescape was a paladin, and overall one got the impression that they took the more Miko-esque route to 'Lawful Good.'

Similarly, I remember at least one adventure where the villains were Lawful Good and were doing terrible things to magical horses called the Nic'epona, for the 'greater good.'

This makes me wonder if maybe people were trying to experiment too much with the boundaries of alignment, and that might have contributed to the setting in a bad way.

I played Planescape once with a Lawful Good Fighter. When it came time to decide which faction to join, my character hated all of them. Not one was suitable for a Lawful Good character. I finally decided on the Judges because it had the least stink, but it still stunk.

The game/DM didn't help make it better. In the game, time and time again showed Lawful Good = Chump. I was having a miserable time and my criticisms were dismissed as whining. Eventually I quit.

Character's name was Adric Navar. :smallsmile: I liked the character despite the game.

Eldan
2013-07-31, 01:00 PM
Well, no one's stopping me from changing whatever I want about the setting. So I did. I generally try to make everyone look at least partially likeable or if that doesn't work, give them a reasonable rationale at least. And for some reason, even with Sinkers and Mercykillers in the setting, the Harmonium looked like it needed it most.

JadedDM
2013-07-31, 01:23 PM
The game/DM didn't help make it better. In the game, time and time again showed Lawful Good = Chump. I was having a miserable time and my criticisms were dismissed as whining. Eventually I quit.

Did we play in the same game?

I was only in one Planescape game, ever. I played a clueless LG cleric, and yeah, my DM apparently disliked good characters (especially Lawful Good) and was constantly 'punishing' me for doing anything that wasn't self-serving. It didn't help that the rest of the party were all staunchly Neutral and were constantly picking on me the whole time (trying to pick-pocket me, pushing me into the mud, mocking me for being upset that an innocent died rather than just rifling his pockets and moving on...).

It wasn't like I was playing a stuck-up-the-butt holier-than-thou type, either. I never do. My character was a nice fellow--a little overwhelmed by everything. of course. Yeah, he had a black-and-white view of things at first, but he quickly got over it and was very accepting toward everyone (including the two tieflings in the party, despite their 'demonic' appearances) and never pushed his faith or morality on anyone, but tried to lead by example.

It stinks that my one and only Planescape experience was such a lousy one.

Ashdate
2013-07-31, 01:50 PM
1. Sure, obviously it was the Lawful Evils and the more hardcore Lawful Neutrals that took right to the purging of the hapless chaotic races, but the Lawful Goods at the very least signed off on it. Also, the factol for most of the setting's run was a paladin, therefore Lawful Good, and would probably be BFFs with Miko if they ever met. So the Lawful Goods of the faction are either cowards who let the Neutrals/Evils have their way, or they're basically fine with whatever atrocities are needed in the name of the faction.

I think it's important to recognize that just because the factor is of a particular alignment, all the rest of the members must follow their alignment-example. Indeed, the Harmonium are even rightly (according to the Factol's Manifesto) to be a "lawful" faction first and foremost.

And even under Factol Sarin, there were members of the faction who were taking action outside of his notice (such as the crackdown on the Free Leaguers), and it's safe to say that not everybody was on board with the Arcadia "training camps". But that's the thing about an organization like the Harmonium: like any faction which is run with military-like precision, you follow orders, whether you personally agree with them or not.


But more to the point, why would a Lawful Good character sign off on a lawful evil action? Perhaps because they've found that they can work with lawful evil, but they have a hard time working with chaotic good. Perhaps because a smooth tongue greasing the wheels and a devotion to their belief in the greater good made it easy to overlook the atrocities that would ultimately be committed (hindsight, even in Planescape, is 20/20).

Or perhaps because it's totally fair to suggest that characters - even NPCs in a setting where alignment is practically personified - are more complex than one simply catagory can fit them into. Just as how good can come from evil characters, evil can come from good characters, and that it's the sum of their deeds - not a singular action or decision - that defines the alignment banner they choose to fly under.


The game/DM didn't help make it better. In the game, time and time again showed Lawful Good = Chump. I was having a miserable time and my criticisms were dismissed as whining. Eventually I quit.

I have a player who is having this problem too in my 4e Planescape game who is having similar problems (up to an including the occasional alignment debate). I'd like to hear more about the problems you had; please let me know if what I've written below jives with your experience or not.

I think the "problem" is that the setting knocks good characters down a peg, which is particularly harmful to lawful characters who seek to justify their actions based on their "good".

The setting clearly shows that while a plane like Elysium might be a great place to retire, it's not a great place to make a living/name for yourself. Meanwhile, the Gray Wastes has the opposite problem/benefits (what with the lucrative nature of the Blood War). I don't know if it's necessarily an intentional commentary on collectivism versus individualism, but I think this divide makes it harder to be a truly lawful good character in the setting. You have to fight the impulses of murder hobos who often are seeking high risk/reward, when your alignment is trying to fight them to put the consequences of their action above any material gain.

Meanwhile, the traditional fantasy setting doesn't have this hangup. You're almost certainly going to be fighting evil, and thus are more likely to be working for good patrons (or at least think you're working for good patrons).

As a DM I do want to be sensitive to this, so would appreciate any input into how you think the setting could "reward" lawful good characters, while recognizing that there isn't any singular alignment that can be considered "correct".

Beleriphon
2013-07-31, 03:48 PM
As a DM I do want to be sensitive to this, so would appreciate any input into how you think the setting could "reward" lawful good characters, while recognizing that there isn't any singular alignment that can be considered "correct".

There are rewards for being good. They just don't come from people that aren't good. That is the key with Planescape, it is so massive that you can run whatever you want, but you'll never find anybody that isn't self serving in a position of power in Sigil. Well except the Lady of Pain, but only because we don't know the motives of that particular power.

Paseo H
2013-07-31, 06:23 PM
I think it's important to recognize that just because the factor is of a particular alignment, all the rest of the members must follow their alignment-example. Indeed, the Harmonium are even rightly (according to the Factol's Manifesto) to be a "lawful" faction first and foremost.

And even under Factol Sarin, there were members of the faction who were taking action outside of his notice (such as the crackdown on the Free Leaguers), and it's safe to say that not everybody was on board with the Arcadia "training camps". But that's the thing about an organization like the Harmonium: like any faction which is run with military-like precision, you follow orders, whether you personally agree with them or not.


But more to the point, why would a Lawful Good character sign off on a lawful evil action? Perhaps because they've found that they can work with lawful evil, but they have a hard time working with chaotic good. Perhaps because a smooth tongue greasing the wheels and a devotion to their belief in the greater good made it easy to overlook the atrocities that would ultimately be committed (hindsight, even in Planescape, is 20/20).

Or perhaps because it's totally fair to suggest that characters - even NPCs in a setting where alignment is practically personified - are more complex than one simply catagory can fit them into. Just as how good can come from evil characters, evil can come from good characters, and that it's the sum of their deeds - not a singular action or decision - that defines the alignment banner they choose to fly under.


Well said, but ultimately what it comes down to is as I said before: either the Lawful Goods cooperate willingly with the more cruel members of their faction, or they're too weak or cowardly to stand up to them, either way they do a disservice to whatever claim of nobility they espouse, and can't be trusted.

And so, like the other guy said up there, none of the lawful factions really stand out for a lawful good. And when you make your setting that, surely it will have a bad effect on playing such a campaign.

Wulfram
2013-07-31, 06:32 PM
Planescape has never felt very DnDey to me

Kyberwulf
2013-07-31, 06:54 PM
I played it a couple times. It was a nice setting, but way to big. There where too many places and people to memorize. The only thing about the setting I truly liked was the art. That was some good art.

navar100
2013-07-31, 07:10 PM
Did we play in the same game?

I was only in one Planescape game, ever. I played a clueless LG cleric, and yeah, my DM apparently disliked good characters (especially Lawful Good) and was constantly 'punishing' me for doing anything that wasn't self-serving. It didn't help that the rest of the party were all staunchly Neutral and were constantly picking on me the whole time (trying to pick-pocket me, pushing me into the mud, mocking me for being upset that an innocent died rather than just rifling his pockets and moving on...).

It wasn't like I was playing a stuck-up-the-butt holier-than-thou type, either. I never do. My character was a nice fellow--a little overwhelmed by everything. of course. Yeah, he had a black-and-white view of things at first, but he quickly got over it and was very accepting toward everyone (including the two tieflings in the party, despite their 'demonic' appearances) and never pushed his faith or morality on anyone, but tried to lead by example.

It stinks that my one and only Planescape experience was such a lousy one.

Maybe it was a 2E thing. Hardly anyone played Lawful Good unless they had to, i.e. a paladin or cleric of certain deities. They got the stigma of being "goody two-shoes", accused of spoiling everyone else's fun and not allowed to have any of their own. Way back when I wrote a "Lawful Good Bill Of Rights". I even had to put "A Lawful Good person is allowed to be wealthy" on there". It was like 2E Lawful Good had to take a vow of poverty giving everything to charity or else they were acting against alignment. This was even before I played the Planescape campaign. I don't know what it was, but something about 3E changed that attitude in the gaming community. Now Lawful Good is a respectable alignment, and you do see non-paladin/cleric/monk Lawful Good characters now and then. You'll still find the Lawful Stupid cracks, Miko or Dudley Do-Right versions, but that's more on Paladin than Lawful Good.

Asmodai
2013-07-31, 07:42 PM
Planescape has never felt very DnDey to me

You make that sound like a bad thing :)

I think the key issue with Planescape for a lot of people beside the quirkiness, was the fact that it was morally very flexible. It eschewed traditional definitions of D&D of morality and explored the effects of moral extremes while reinforcing that people's philosophy, faith and deeds were the actual measure of their lives and their subsequent fates rather then an arbitrary two word code your character lives up to.

In general, for it's time Planescape was an amazingly mature and clever way of exploring the meaning of your actions and the motivations and consequences thereof. It's not something that was going to cater to everyone, but it's definetley something special, unique and in my personal opinion the best thing that ever came out of D&D.

Porthos
2013-07-31, 08:09 PM
The thing I always took from Planescape was that it was sort of a fusion of White Wolf games and more 'standard' D&D.

Instead of Clans/Tribes/Traditions/et etc you had Factions. You had the whole Philosophers With Clubs shtick. Specialized terms to be used in gameplay. And even the whole overriding 'exploring ideas is a bit more important than bashing people over the head' angle.

I played both and Planescape by far was the most WW like thing I ever saw in TSR days.

I think a some of the friction over Planescape and everything else comes from that.

As for the Lawful = Bad bit, I agree and disagree. ALL the factions were flawed (another WW comparison to be made). None of them were objectively the right one. And all of them could be said to be not representing exactly what an alignment (or even whatever their stated purpose) should be.

Don't forget, the Xaositects could be viewed as the epitome of Chaotic Stupid. The Revolutionary League? Sometimes more concerned with purging itself and/or punishing others for cooperating with the wrong sort.

Personally, it's why one of my favorite characters was an Athar. He took one look at all of the madness around him and said "You all suck." And went along his own merry little way. Even the Free League was just.... no for him. :smallsmile:

Of course there were some factions that didn't get hit with the Stupid Stick quite as much as the others. The Transcendent Order, for one. And others, even if they did get a couple of taps on the head over it (The Sensates for example), at least you could hang around them without too much trouble. And some of the ideas for the factions were down right fascinating (the Dustmen).

But I do have to admit there were a few factions that should have walked around with a sign around their neck stating Does Not Play Well With Others. Which can be a problem in a team orientated game. It's like taking the worst bits of the Paladin and Druid when it comes to team dynamic play (Don't Be Evil! Don't Defile Nature! I Won't Let You Do This Because It Violates My Ethos!!) and cranking it up to eleven. :smallwink:

Great for many gamers. But I won't deny the fact that it wasn't for everyone.

Selein
2013-08-01, 04:26 PM
Eberron was created solely for 3E (won a contest, I believe, much to the Giant's chagrin). New here but I'm curious about the history behind your statement.

Eldan
2013-08-01, 05:07 PM
There was a contest. People sent in a one-paragraph (or one page?) description of their setting. Wizards chose the best of those, and people sent in a longer description. Then round three and another longer description. And so on.

Rich Burlew, The Giant in the Playground, won place two behind Eberron.

Selein
2013-08-01, 05:23 PM
Thankyou, i know there was a contest. Is there a way to find Mr. Burlew's work¿ I'd like to have a look at it.

Eldan
2013-08-01, 05:31 PM
You can't. He's mentioned it a few times: it's Wizards' now and they are keeping it secret.

NichG
2013-08-01, 05:45 PM
The thing with the factions is, they're basically a refutation of alignments. Planescape was IMO clever in that way - take a setting in which the alignments are physical, omnipresent, all-important forces. This isn't the Prime, where people do whatever; this is the afterlife where whatever they did gets them classified and sent to their 'reward', whatever it is.

Then take a bunch of more-or-less alive people, the kind of people who you'd meet on the prime, but see what happens when they try to live amongst all these afterlives. They're not souls gone to their rewards, they were just born into this mess. So they see alignment all around them, but they eventually decide that its not compelling, alignment doesn't answer their questions or deeply resonate to them. So instead they come up with their own philosophies, things that don't really fall on strict alignment lines for the most part. And lo and behold, because of the way the planes work, these philosophies end up having power.

Its like if there were a violent, multi-generational war between two countries, and then a member of one of the countries decided that they don't stand for or against one country or the other, but they stand for civilians and against soldiers. Its an idea that'd be alien to the context they live in, and the tension between the idea and the status quo makes it interesting.

So when you say 'why would an LG character join a faction with CE people in it?' you have to remember, its not that one of them is LG and the other is CE. Its that they're both Sensates, or Athar, or whatever, and they just have slightly different ideas about how to go about it. Effectively their faction is at least as important if not more-so to them than their alignment. So if you're LG and the Harmonium does something evil, you don't necessarily like it or approve of it, but you try to reform the Harmonium or guide it in the direction you like rather than just quit because it has members on the other side of the alignment spectrum from you.

Paseo H
2013-08-01, 06:13 PM
The thing with the factions is, they're basically a refutation of alignments. Planescape was IMO clever in that way - take a setting in which the alignments are physical, omnipresent, all-important forces. This isn't the Prime, where people do whatever; this is the afterlife where whatever they did gets them classified and sent to their 'reward', whatever it is.

Then take a bunch of more-or-less alive people, the kind of people who you'd meet on the prime, but see what happens when they try to live amongst all these afterlives. They're not souls gone to their rewards, they were just born into this mess. So they see alignment all around them, but they eventually decide that its not compelling, alignment doesn't answer their questions or deeply resonate to them. So instead they come up with their own philosophies, things that don't really fall on strict alignment lines for the most part. And lo and behold, because of the way the planes work, these philosophies end up having power.

Its like if there were a violent, multi-generational war between two countries, and then a member of one of the countries decided that they don't stand for or against one country or the other, but they stand for civilians and against soldiers. Its an idea that'd be alien to the context they live in, and the tension between the idea and the status quo makes it interesting.

So when you say 'why would an LG character join a faction with CE people in it?' you have to remember, its not that one of them is LG and the other is CE. Its that they're both Sensates, or Athar, or whatever, and they just have slightly different ideas about how to go about it. Effectively their faction is at least as important if not more-so to them than their alignment. So if you're LG and the Harmonium does something evil, you don't necessarily like it or approve of it, but you try to reform the Harmonium or guide it in the direction you like rather than just quit because it has members on the other side of the alignment spectrum from you.

I like the way you think.

Thing is though, this makes the earlier point that Planescape seemed to have a way of making Lawful Goods look like total jackholes even more likely.

As for your point about the Harmonium, well I'm sure there's some sane Lawful Goods trying to make it kinder and gentler, Hinjos as opposed to Mikos like Factol Sarin, but given 1. Factol Sarin and 2. Their history on their home planet, it seems more likely than not that the Lawful Goods are in it just as deep as far as atrocities go.

Speaking of Miko, I just now looked up the whole "arcadian training camps" thing. That little stunt cost them a layer to a Lawful Neutral plane, thus making me think of the Twelve God's response to Miko's extrajudicial execution of Shojo.

NichG
2013-08-01, 06:36 PM
I like the way you think.

Thing is though, this makes the earlier point that Planescape seemed to have a way of making Lawful Goods look like total jackholes even more likely.

As for your point about the Harmonium, well I'm sure there's some sane Lawful Goods trying to make it kinder and gentler, Hinjos as opposed to Mikos like Factol Sarin, but given 1. Factol Sarin and 2. Their history on their home planet, it seems more likely than not that the Lawful Goods are in it just as deep as far as atrocities go.


Well Planescape also has angels that are acting as weapons smugglers to prolong the Blood War and keep the devils and demons from banding together to siege the heavens, bars where you can go up to a balor and chat with it without being instantly slain, 'The Friendly Fiend', Githzerai who are basically chaotic-aligned freedom and individuality-loving monks, and so on. Its part of the 'refutation of alignment' idea that sometimes you meet someone with a G in their code, but it doesn't mean they're going to actually be a good person, it just means they're aligned with the cosmic forces of Good.

I think if you think of it in terms of lowercase 'g' good and lowercase 'l' lawful it makes a lot more sense. There are 'Good' people who went along with what happened on Ortho. Are they also good people? Probably not. Or they're zealous people whose culture and beliefs made them believe they were doing the right thing; there are plenty of historical real world examples of this kind of dissonance that can't be discussed here. Similarly, if you remember that Ortho is an entire planet, its sort of like saying 'You're a cop working for a country whose government committed an atrocity, how can you be a good person?'. There's lots of ways to go with it.



Speaking of Miko, I just now looked up the whole "arcadian training camps" thing. That little stunt cost them a layer to a Lawful Neutral plane, thus making me think of the Twelve God's response to Miko's extrajudicial execution of Shojo.

Yeah, I'd say the Arcadian thing was very important along with what happened to Ortho to make the Harmonium not just 'the LG faction of paladins'. A few of the other factions fall afoul of being too obviously 'the alignment X faction', such as the Xaositects (C-whatever) and the Guvners (L-whatever). I think more could have been done to differentiate them from their obvious alignments, though perhaps they're there as a mockery of 'functional' members of those alignments.

For example, normally a CN person wouldn't be insane and random, they'd usually just be very individualistic and self-interested. The Xaositects could be thought of as a parody of the players who always treat CN as 'purple walrus stabbity cake' and the Guvners as a parody of rules lawyers (since that is almost literally what they are, people who research the laws of the universe for the sake of power).

Eldan
2013-08-01, 08:24 PM
And powergamers, personified as Rowan Darkwood, the human Ranger 20/Cleric 20 who solved every published adventure, including Temple of Elemental Evil and the Tomb of Horrors.

Plerumque
2013-08-01, 08:30 PM
I've often wanted to learn 2nd Edition just so I can play Planescape.

Paseo H
2013-08-01, 09:35 PM
Similarly, if you remember that Ortho is an entire planet, its sort of like saying 'You're a cop working for a country whose government committed an atrocity, how can you be a good person?'. There's lots of ways to go with it.

Obviously there is room for debate as to how complicit the Lawful Good members of the faction are in the atrocities of their LN/LE members, but in fairness I was specifically pointing out the example of Factol Sarin, who is a LG paladin and clearly closer to being more like Miko than Hinjo. That's not singling out the little fish.

Now you might say "Well even Factol Sarin probably naively believes a more LG friendly version of Orthos' history, that downplays that CG faeries and elves were cruelly cleansed along with CN/CE races," but given the example of the 'training camps,' this mentality of racism against the CG races for not being lawful was not merely an overreach in the beginning of their history, but part and parcel of the faction.

That is why I feel confident in judging even the LG members formally and materially complicit with the cruel atrocities of the LN/LE members.

Which of course I consider to be a failing of the way the setting was written.

Ashdate
2013-08-01, 09:56 PM
That is why I feel confident in judging even the LG members formally and materially complicit with the cruel atrocities of the LN/LE members.

Which of course I consider to be a failing of the way the setting was written.

I think it's kind of unfair to hold one particular alignment to a higher standard than others (even if that particular alignment is about holding people to a higher standard).

Paseo H
2013-08-01, 10:01 PM
I think it's kind of unfair to hold one particular alignment to a higher standard than others (even if that particular alignment is about holding people to a higher standard).

Huh.

Explain.

NichG
2013-08-02, 12:08 AM
I feel as if I'm not correctly communicating my point about alignment.

Basically Planescape is, to at least some extent, a story about how alignment in general is a lie, and the people who decided that and tried to forge their own way in a world where alignment is literally the ground beneath their feet and the sky above their head.

The LG character who commits what everyone should recognize as atrocities and maintains the LG alignment is basically a big neon sign that says 'the cosmic alignments aren't what they claim to be in the brochure.' 'Good' does not mean 'good'. 'Lawful' does not mean one who follows laws; you can make a fair deal with a being of pure 'Evil' and even have a nice chat with them over tea about the metaphysics of planar commerce.

Planescape takes a system that was fairly absolute and dogmatic about morality, and then inserts lots of uncomfortable questions. This is actually a positive thing about the setting, not a flaw.

It kind of makes me think that a good meta-plot for a Planescape campaign would be that the Lady's Decree that there shall only be 15 factions is a prelude to a cosmic upset in the nature of alignment (down to 11 post Faction War), and Sigil is basically the philosophical 'seed' that will re-generate the planes after the upset occurs. And that the 9 canonical alignments may have corresponded to 9 distinct factions at some point in the distant past, before the Pact Primeval or the time of the Baernoloths.

Yora
2013-08-02, 12:40 AM
The alignments are cosmic forces, but they are not actually indentical to "being nice" and "being mean" as the names Good and Evil imply. They could also be called something else, without actually changing much in Planescape.

TrollCapAmerica
2013-08-02, 01:36 AM
Ahhh Planescape.It was a mixed bag but I enjoyed it

The Good

Excellent focus on the outer places as something beyond a place where 15+ HD creatures hang out

Gave us some more development to the outer planes with things like the Blood War Sigil and looks into the major races that lived all around the afterlife

Lots of cool places to go and things to see

The bad

"Shadowrun is a major competitor right?Lets use slang and a dirty urban setting in sigil.That'll sell more books You burfing sod cutter Merrtuglhgg especially if we keep talking like a retard pirate OOC in the books too"

"White Wolf is really kicking our rears huh?Lets steal the archtypes they use in every game and hope somebody going through the infinite majesty of afterlife which personify universal concepts where dwell the angels demons and GODS wants to join a fruity club based on a shaky concept they likely dont even care about"

PC bullcrap.Untouchable gods not-demon/devils removing mythological names for the outer planes etc.I was so happy when I got to stab Lloth instead of her avatar again in 3rd ed

Eldan
2013-08-02, 07:59 AM
I've often wanted to learn 2nd Edition just so I can play Planescape.

There's really no reason. Just go and grab the AD&D Planescape books if you can find them as PDFs anywhere. They translate into third edition with minimal effort for everything but creature stat blocks and those you can find on fan sites.

Asmodai
2013-08-02, 08:09 AM
There's really no reason. Just go and grab the AD&D Planescape books if you can find them as PDFs anywhere. They translate into third edition with minimal effort for everything but creature stat blocks and those you can find on fan sites.

Most of it is fluff, even, so you can easily convert it to your system of choice.

As for Sarin... Sarin is Lawful Good of the Vimes sort :P. And Harmonium has a thing about having issues with people who are too Good or Evil... they usually don't make good Lawful Lawful :)

Saph
2013-08-02, 08:15 AM
I've always had the impression that while Planescape had a small dedicated following of hardcore fans, it wasn't actually all that popular.

I like reading about Planescape, but I'd hate to have to run a campaign in it. I think the outer planes in D&D are better suited to sightseeing and side adventures than to being a primary setting.

Joe the Rat
2013-08-02, 09:32 AM
Ahhh Planescape.It was a mixed bag but I enjoyed it

The Good

Excellent focus on the outer places as something beyond a place where 15+ HD creatures hang out

Gave us some more development to the outer planes with things like the Blood War Sigil and looks into the major races that lived all around the afterlife

Lots of cool places to go and things to see

The bad

"Shadowrun is a major competitor right?Lets use slang and a dirty urban setting in sigil.That'll sell more books You burfing sod cutter Merrtuglhgg especially if we keep talking like a retard pirate OOC in the books too"

"White Wolf is really kicking our rears huh?Lets steal the archtypes they use in every game and hope somebody going through the infinite majesty of afterlife which personify universal concepts where dwell the angels demons and GODS wants to join a fruity club based on a shaky concept they likely dont even care about"

PC bullcrap.Untouchable gods not-demon/devils removing mythological names for the outer planes etc.I was so happy when I got to stab Lloth instead of her avatar again in 3rd ed

I think you can some a lot of your bad into this being the first punk D&D setting (Cosmology-Punk? Is that a thing?). Gritty, run down warrens, no good guys (even if they are Good), plotting megacorp/clan/factions, the "Prince" might flay you alive if you cross her path, etc.

The PC bullcrap was already there before Planescape. Demons and Devils and Hell got whitewashed due to the satanic panic of the 80s. (Adding Baatezu and Tana'ri to the lexicon of wierd-ass creature names was a nice side-effect. IIRC, they downplayed the Type IV silliness at the same time.)

The Avatars, not Manifestations piece was already in place as well, but I don't remember the exact rationale (beyond the ususal "if you give it stats, PCs will try to kill it).

TrollCapAmerica
2013-08-02, 09:52 AM
I think you can some a lot of your bad into this being the first punk D&D setting (Cosmology-Punk? Is that a thing?). Gritty, run down warrens, no good guys (even if they are Good), plotting megacorp/clan/factions, the "Prince" might flay you alive if you cross her path, etc.

The PC bullcrap was already there before Planescape. Demons and Devils and Hell got whitewashed due to the satanic panic of the 80s. (Adding Baatezu and Tana'ri to the lexicon of wierd-ass creature names was a nice side-effect. IIRC, they downplayed the Type IV silliness at the same time.)

The Avatars, not Manifestations piece was already in place as well, but I don't remember the exact rationale (beyond the ususal "if you give it stats, PCs will try to kill it).

You are correct sir.I like to focus on the afterlife being an awe inspiring place of incredible extremes that personify the alignments not the place where alignment gets muddled.You could actually still do that just fine in planescape which is what made it cool you just kick out the shadowrun-lite elements

The other stuff is mostly Lorraine Williams marking her territory and its easy to throw out too particularly if you still have your 1st ed Deities and Demigods

BWR
2013-08-02, 09:58 AM
Mostly because the game was not supposed to be about killing things, leveling up and taking their stuff. It was about exploration, a sense of wonder and of the power of belief.
Some combat is necessary, but the real way to defeat a god in Planescape is not go and stab one with the +9999 Sword of Godslaying and Awesomeness but to remove its worshipper base. It's not just killing off the worshipper base either, it's presenting an alternative that attracts more people. It's about proving your beliefs to be more powerful than others.
Planescape was never meant to cater to the "let's kill it crowd" and people who think PS should have that don't really understand the setting. It shouldn't matter if gods have stats or not because why the hell are you going to try to kill one?

TrollCapAmerica
2013-08-02, 10:45 AM
Mostly because the game was not supposed to be about killing things, leveling up and taking their stuff. It was about exploration, a sense of wonder and of the power of belief.
Some combat is necessary, but the real way to defeat a god in Planescape is not go and stab one with the +9999 Sword of Godslaying and Awesomeness but to remove its worshipper base. It's not just killing off the worshipper base either, it's presenting an alternative that attracts more people. It's about proving your beliefs to be more powerful than others.
Planescape was never meant to cater to the "let's kill it crowd" and people who think PS should have that don't really understand the setting. It shouldn't matter if gods have stats or not because why the hell are you going to try to kill one?

Thing is I dont think it really matters much if Gods have stats or not.PCs still dont make it a habit of hunting Odin just because he could theoretically die and even then I dont think anything but ridiculously optimized characters with a perfect strategy have a chance be it 1st 2nd or 3rd edition

All invulnerable gods did was remove the feeling of accomplishment you get at the end of an adventure like Queen of the Demonweb Pits where a high level PC has earned to kick Lloths teeth in

Ashdate
2013-08-02, 10:49 AM
Huh.

Explain.

I think it's silly to be so rigid about what a particular alignment will/will not do, to the point where they do become the Miko-esq Paladin who draws their alignment line in the sand and refuses to cross it. Everyone would find it difficult to play with a chaotic character who outright refuses to obey any law, just as they would find it difficult to play with an evil character who thinks playing his alignment correctly means taking every opportunity he gets to murder people.

Thus, we can accept the idea of any other alignment moving outside their "box" to accomplish their greater goals, if for no other reason than such extremes make actually interacting with the setting difficult. Yet for some reason some players and DMs get so hung-up on what Lawful Good means that they figure "if I'm not playing a zealot, I'm doing it wrong", which leads to similar problems with the characters playing paragons of chaos or evil (or both), yet is somehow condoned.

As I have said earlier, I would suggest that

a) The Harmonium was and is bigger than their factol
b) That the faction puts the law side of the alignment first and foremost
c) That it's quite possible that even the most lawful good of their members were deceived over the extent of the activities of their lawful neutral and lawful evil members.

Should players and NPCs of a lawful good alignment try and set a good example? Absolutely, but they should recognize that it's okay to sometimes do "lawful neutral", "neutral good", or heck, sometimes "true neutral" actions if it means the party/faction not tossing you into a portal to Carceri. As someone has pointed out earlier, the beauty of the factions is that it allows players to bleed their alignment in the name of a larger goal. Once the Harmonium achieves the world of perfect military order they desire, then they an worry about it benefiting the greater good. Baby steps and all of that.

Asmodai
2013-08-02, 11:18 AM
Also, one thing to consider... Planescape explores Alignment beyond the mere words. Codes of conduct and principles of interaction and morality are what we make of it. Exemplars and concepts of morality and what is true and unfettered Alignement without the lens of mortals is most likely going to be alien to anyone who thought Good and Evil or Law and Chaos were as simple as that.

Eldan
2013-08-02, 12:45 PM
I don't know. I still think the Lawful people are essentially regimented and Good people essentially good. It's not necessary to twist good people into war criminals to show how alignments can be different from how people think. At least, not often. After a while, it just leads to overexposure and people not trusting anything lawful or good anymore, which shouldn't be the point.

And I actually think what made Planescape so interesting for me was the juxtaposition of run-down dirty cities set in the most grand setting imagineable. The overwhelmingly grand mixed with the frustratingly mundane.
You are in a six mile diameter Torus of stone in a city of portals and incredible diversity and its full of beggars. You are in Broken Reach, gateway to an infinite abyss of monstrosities. It's raining fire outside and you're standing between a cobbler's and a tea shop.

The point of Planescape wasn't just to show the grandness of the planes. Because that was around before. It was also to show that normal, clueless, ordinary mortals can make a living among that splendour. We are but men, walking among gods and demons and we still need a warm bed and a hot meal. Planescape is not just the setting of angels and devils. It's the setting where archons are playing chess with yugoloths, not just standing around being imposing and holy.

BlckDv
2013-08-02, 01:38 PM
Another thing to remember is that the power of belief was a very core concept in Planescape, and to showcase that belief, setting elements tended towards those with dynamic tension. Note that the Harmonium is not from Mt. Celestia, the well settled LG plane, but rather Arcadia, the Kinda LG but Kinda LN plane. By nature they already lean in favor of Law when Law and Good are not in accord; and that creates change and tension for stories. How far can you lean before you are changed? What can you justify and still believe with all your heart that you are good? The loss of a planar layer is not a freak event; it is an illustration of the core of the setting.

The extreme corners that are well adjusted don't fit this story element well. LG folks who are well adjusted and happy as LG just enjoy the sights on good ol' Mt. Celestia and go about their business; they don't come to Sigil to get drunk and bemoan the futility of inspiring mortal rulers. The story comes from folks who are not well adjusted, or are not as comfortable in their alignment as they may seem.

This applies just as much to CE as to LG, but given how few players ever champion the tenets of CE, you don't see as much player worry about the way the alignment comes off. But notice how the Abyss tends to lean towards the Yugoloths for aid (and thus Neutrallity) as they move towards a "victory" in the Blood War... ultimately fueling the true futility of the struggle, as their NE compromises mean that they don't ultimately reshape the universe towards CE, and any "victory" they claim fuels the status quo.

I loved Planescape; but I realized how lucky I was to get so much of it in 2nd edition, it really is not for everyone, and requires one to be well versed in D&D ideas and constructs while at the same time be willing to tear them down to really click.

Porthos
2013-08-02, 01:59 PM
Most of it is fluff, even, so you can easily convert it to your system of choice.

The one thing I'm not sure translates as well is the idea of faction abilites. I've never quited like the idea of Factions As Presitge Classes, but I've yet to really see a better fit for 3.X.

DeltaEmil
2013-08-02, 02:31 PM
The one thing I'm not sure translates as well is the idea of faction abilites. I've never quited like the idea of Factions As Presitge Classes, but I've yet to really see a better fit for 3.X.One could try to bake the faction abilities into the Affiliation rules found in the D&D 3.5 Player's Handbook 2.

Eldan
2013-08-02, 02:35 PM
They can be any number of things, really. Depending on the faction. Those with immunities make reasonably good templates. Some are feats, some are spell-like abilities.

The bloodline rules work reasonably well, too. You even get three tiers for Namer/Factotum/Factor, or some other measure of devotion. You just need to expand their abilities a bit. I started it once. Not sure if I still have my notes, if I find them I could post them here.

VariSami
2013-08-02, 03:33 PM
One could try to bake the faction abilities into the Affiliation rules found in the D&D 3.5 Player's Handbook 2.
There even exists ready homebrew along these lines. I made my own as well but it was wiped from existence when EnWorld was hacked and I have yet to attempt re-writing it.

NichG
2013-08-02, 04:05 PM
I made a list of faction abilities for my own 3.5 Planescape campaign at one point. This was before Affiliations, which would have been a better way to do it, so instead it was just a flat bonus for being a member of that faction.

In retrospect I would have changed a few though, like the Signer's 'make a Concentration check to either believe something into existence or believe yourself partially out of existence' (too easy to buff Concentration) or the Anarchists having to donate 90% of their earnings to the cause. Anyhow, for posterity:


Anarchists:
Bluff, Disguise, Escape Artist, Forgery, Gather Information, Hide,
Move Silenty are class skills. For rogues, they instead get +2 to
each.
Can pose as a member of other factions (but do not get special
abilities). Gain info on factions/access to headquarters.
90% of all earnings must be donated to the cause or oppressed.
May not hold a title, public office, or own a business.

Athar:
SR 7+CL vs divine magic. Cannot be voluntarily waived.
Cannot/will not be granted favors by a deity.
Athar clerics can still get spells/etc, but receive them not from a
deity but from some other source.

Believers of the Source:
+2 to all craft skills
+1 to Fort, Will saves
Do not lose a level when reincarnated by the spell 'reincarnate'.
At Level 10, reincarnate automatically after 1 month dead. If
reincarnated this way, you will lose one level as normal.
Cannot be raised or resurrected - must be reincarnated

Bleakers:
+2 to Will save
Immune to spell effects which attempt to drive them mad (confusion,
feeblemind, otto's irresistible dance, tasha's hideous laughter)
Every day roll 1d20. On a 1, the bleaker sinks into melancholy. If this
persists for three days, they must be committed to the Gatehouse for
their safety. On a 20, they become euphoric: happy and generous.
This cannot occur two days in a row - a second 20 does nothing.

Ciphers:
+4 vs mind-affecting spells. If the bonus is the difference between
success/failure, mind is affected but body acts on its own.
+2 initiative
+1 to reflex saves
Cannot take back actions OOC

Doomguard:
Either free Martial Weapon Proficiency (for a sword of some kind) or
Weapon Focus (for a sword of some kind)
1/week Entropic Strike: Declare before the attack. If it hits,
double damage to target; half of that to doomguard.
1/day Sift: Identify how an object was destroyed by its remains
Doomguard must make a (Will) saving throw versus any healing - if
successful, the healing fails.
Raise dead, reincarnation, and resurrection/true resurrection always
fail on a Doomguard, as do means of pursuing immortality or
extending life.

Dustmen:
Dead Truce: Undead will not initiate hostile action against a
Dustman but may against his companions. Dustmen clerics/etc may not
turn undead to destroy without facing expulsion from the faction.
All attempts to restore a Dustman to life (raise dead, reincarnate,
etc) have a 50% chance of failure and may not be retried if they fail.

Fated:
All skills are counted as class skills
Cannot give/receive charity

Fraternity of Order:
3/day evaluate the DC of a proposed action
+4 to checks to finding loopholes in documents/etc
DC 20 Int check, learn a language temporarily;
Can't break laws knowingly
+1 bonus to Decipher Script

Free League:
+2 to Will saves
10% discount on items bought from other Indeps/at Bazaar.

Harmonium:
+2 saves vs fear
1/day charm person (caster level = class level/2)
Leaving the Harmonium is treason
Treason carries a sentence of death

Mercykillers:
1/day discern lies (caster level equal to half class level, round
up).
1/week Just strike: Used against a criminal. Declare before attack;
if hit, target is jolted and stunned for one round (considered
flatfooted).
A mercykiller must always accept a prisoner's surrender and cannot
release a prisoner until justice has been served.

Sensates:
Alertness instead of one sense immediately?
+2 resistance to poison
Easily drawn into illusions: -2 to save
Enhanced senses (one sense right away, one at Lv7)
Sight - +4 bonus to spot, darkvision
Sound - +4 bonus to listen, perfect pitch (+2 competence to
Perform checks with musical instruments)
Touch - Read text by touch (ink)
Taste - Identify alchemical substances/potions/poisons by taste
Smell - Get the Scent feat

Signers:
Automatically receive a save versus any illusion they are confronted
with.
1/day plus 1/2 charisma mod can try to imagine an item or effect into
existence via a Concentration check. On a roll of a '1', the Signer
imagines themself insubstantial. The degree depends on the DC of the
check. To restore, a check of the same difficulty or higher as the
one which made the Signer insubstantial must be made using this
ability by any Signer (including the insubstantial one if less than
100% unreal).

DC 15: Ghost sound, dancing lights, etc. On crit failure, become 10% unreal
(all damage done at 90%, lose 10% of hp)
DC 25: Minor image/minor creation. On crit failure
become 20% unreal (all damage done at 80%, lose 20% of hp, cannot use
race/class/feat abilities)
DC 35: Major image/stone shape/grow plants into a pattern/etc/alter
self. Create a region of particular elemental affinity. On crit failure,
50% unreal. Cannot touch/hold objects.
DC 45: Dimension door/major creation/polymorph self. On crit failure, vanish
(100% unreal). Cannot interact with the world.
DC 55: Planeshift/teleport. On crit failure, forgotten; vanish from
everyone's memory but not written record/solid evidence.
DC 65+: Extraordinary effects. On crit failure, all evidence of
existance removed.

Xaositects:
1/day can give a nonsensical prophecy about the location of a truly
lost item.
Scramblespeak
1/day muck up the operation of a device in a harmless fashion
Cannot participate in long-term planning - if forced to, they
suffer -2 to all checks until they can act spontaneously.
Reroll 1/day and keep 2nd result. If ever roll a 1: _catastrophic_
failure and cannot reroll.

Paseo H
2013-08-02, 07:35 PM
I'm beginning to think that I'm the one not getting his point across now.

My complaint is not that I think that LGs should always be zealots...quite the opposite. After all, Miko was made as an example of that sort of backwards thinking, right?

See, I was trying to make the case that Planescape essentially catered to that zealot way of thinking because of the Harmonium, and along with some other "When Lawful Goods Attack" type adventures, the setting made LG look like jackholes.

To address your bulette points:

a. The ground they covered (Sigil, Arcadia, Orthos) would seem to imply that I guess, but I would think that the Factol is one of the foremost members and thus representing of their influences.

b. Yeah, and if you're a non zealot paladin that's not a good thing.

c. I addressed that and while the possibility is valid, I'm not sure it's right to try to exonerate LG complicity by any means necessary. It still seems to me that treating all chaotics (even CGs) as unworthy filth to be broken down mentally or killed is part and parcel of the Harmonium philosophy, and not just an overreach in their early days.

So yes, I fully believe that there is room to breathe within alignments, and maybe Planescape was trying to address that...by having LGs be implied as knowingly committing atrocities, in the name of LG. That's what doesn't sit right with me.

Ashdate
2013-08-02, 08:09 PM
So yes, I fully believe that there is room to breathe within alignments, and maybe Planescape was trying to address that...by having LGs be implied as knowingly committing atrocities, in the name of LG. That's what doesn't sit right with me.

So you don't think Lawful Good characters should be fallible, like the rest of the alignments? You keep positioning it as "they should have know what they were doing was wrong", but I think a lot of the bad was only recognizable in hindsight for a lot of them.

I think it's also important to recognize that the setting is bigger than the Harmonium, even for Lawful Good characters. The Harmonium are only one of a half dozen factions that will take them.

That said, if you're more interested in seeing the Harmonium as a force of good, the 3.5 Planewalker material is probably relevant to your interests.

Paseo H
2013-08-02, 08:18 PM
So you don't think Lawful Good characters should be fallible, like the rest of the alignments? You keep positioning it as "they should have know what they were doing was wrong", but I think a lot of the bad was only recognizable in hindsight for a lot of them.

I think it's also important to recognize that the setting is bigger than the Harmonium, even for Lawful Good characters. The Harmonium are only one of a half dozen factions that will take them.

That said, if you're more interested in seeing the Harmonium as a force of good, the 3.5 Planewalker material is probably relevant to your interests.

1. I'm not saying that LGs can't make mistakes, but willful acts of evil should be forbidden by definition. I mean, there's mistakes, and then there's "murder Chaotic Good races because they're Chaotic, in the name of Almighty Lawfulness." You keep trying to position it as not being fully aware until it was too late, but that requires a lot of ignorance, willful or otherwise, and I should think that when you're a Factol, you should be at least somewhat aware of the true truth.

2. I know that. The reason I'm on about this was to point out one of the flaws that may have made Planescape less easy to enjoy.

3. Maybe, but I tend to be more 2nd Edition in my D&D thinking. Also, were they the same authors? Different authors, different story, you know?

Ashdate
2013-08-02, 08:50 PM
1. I'm not saying that LGs can't make mistakes, but willful acts of evil should be forbidden by definition. I mean, there's mistakes, and then there's "murder Chaotic Good races because they're Chaotic, in the name of Almighty Lawfulness." You keep trying to position it as not being fully aware until it was too late, but that requires a lot of ignorance, willful or otherwise, and I should think that when you're a Factol, you should be at least somewhat aware of the true truth.

I don't admit to being an expert on the Harmonium, but what is the evidence that they killed chaotic good races on Ortho? It's implied that might have happened, but from what I can read, most on the world wouldn't really think of it that way. I also think you need to remember that there is a giant unspecified time between when that happened on Otrho, and what would be considered the "modern" Harmonium (there's been about a 650 year gap). Most members - Sarin included - probably don't know the dark of it. Even in modern Sigil, the Hardheads who wish to exterminate people who are Indeps is flying under Sarin's radar (Factol's Manifesto, p. 98).

The Planewalker material is different authors, but it seeks to continue the setting after the events of the Faction War. With Sarin likely mazed, the new factol (Sarin's wife, Faith) really tries to make a harder push towards something approaching LG, trying to put less emphasis on the "law" and more towards the "good". I just thought the shift might be more of what you were looking for in the faction.

NichG
2013-08-02, 09:10 PM
See, I was trying to make the case that Planescape essentially catered to that zealot way of thinking because of the Harmonium, and along with some other "When Lawful Goods Attack" type adventures, the setting made LG look like jackholes.

c. I addressed that and while the possibility is valid, I'm not sure it's right to try to exonerate LG complicity by any means necessary. It still seems to me that treating all chaotics (even CGs) as unworthy filth to be broken down mentally or killed is part and parcel of the Harmonium philosophy, and not just an overreach in their early days.


Well I think you're making a logic mistake here. I agree that the Harmonium are jackholes - they're absolutely a horrible, totalitarian military regime that for the most part wants to purge the universe of 'people they don't like'.

But, the mistake you're making is saying that 'because the Harmonium factol is LG, the Harmonium represents the alignment LG and therefore its portraying LG people as jackholes'.

Its not that the Harmonium defines LG. The Harmonium just defines the Harmonium, and they're jackholes. But that does not mean that the Harmonium's behavior says anything about the alignment LG except that it is broad enough that it is possible to maintain an LG alignment while performing such crusades, so long as they are in the name of Law and Good.

Its not saying 'LG people will be jackholes', its saying 'being LG is no guarantee that you aren't a jackhole'. It means you cannot take for granted that someone who detects as Good will actually be a nice person - alignment is no longer an accurate predictor of someone's behavior.



So yes, I fully believe that there is room to breathe within alignments, and maybe Planescape was trying to address that...by having LGs be implied as knowingly committing atrocities, in the name of LG. That's what doesn't sit right with me.

More or less, I think. I think the 'right' response to, say, a good-guy encountering this in character in Planescape is to realize that they may actually be better than all the angels and solars and paladins out there. That alignment is just what color of shirt you're wearing and says a lot less about your real character than you've previously thought.


1. I'm not saying that LGs can't make mistakes, but willful acts of evil should be forbidden by definition. I mean, there's mistakes, and then there's "murder Chaotic Good races because they're Chaotic, in the name of Almighty Lawfulness." You keep trying to position it as not being fully aware until it was too late, but that requires a lot of ignorance, willful or otherwise, and I should think that when you're a Factol, you should be at least somewhat aware of the true truth.

Actually what I'd say is, the acts of Sarin himself were insufficiently Evil (capital E) under the cosmic definition of what Good and Evil are to cause him to change alignment or fall. Being part of an organization that has a dark side or dark past isn't going to do it, nor necessarily will putting forth the philosophy that the Chaotic should be brought into line for the sake of Harmony (and not necessarily punished or killed - thats a Mercykiller thing). Sarin wasn't born by the Ortho Subjugation, so its kind of hard to say what Sarin himself has actually done one way or another that would set his alignment without some deep lore diving.

An LG person's alignment isn't going to change just for getting political office in a country that has committed atrocities in the past, or even one that is currently committing atrocities. It will only change if they themselves order or participate in such things, or encourage them. If you have an LG person trying to curb a corrupt government from within, how is that not acting within the scope of LG?

navar100
2013-08-02, 11:31 PM
It's part of why Lawful Good = Chump in the Planescape game I played. I actually was playing Lawful Good nice guy but got no niceness in return, cheated on (moneywise), picked on (NPCs and PCs), and general lack of respect. It was as if I was the only nice guy in all the Planes. Friendly NPCs did exist, but I was more patronized than treated as an equal.

There was one bright spot. The party had visited a town on Faerun that we would find out was being oppressed by a giant. Hill giant, I'm not sure remembering. Upon dispatching the giant we were treated as heroes, and for the first and only time that campaign my character actually got some respect. I like to fantasize, upon quitting the group, that my character retired there to become Sheriff.

Paseo H
2013-08-03, 04:28 AM
Being part of an organization that has a dark side or dark past isn't going to do it, nor necessarily will putting forth the philosophy that the Chaotic should be brought into line for the sake of Harmony (and not necessarily punished or killed - thats a Mercykiller thing).

That sounds harmless to you? What if said Chaotics refuse point blank to be 'brought into line?'

Anyway, trying to look up about Factol Sarin to see if my initial impression of him wasn't colored by his overstern demeanor...

NichG
2013-08-03, 06:34 AM
That sounds harmless to you? What if said Chaotics refuse point blank to be 'brought into line?'

Anyway, trying to look up about Factol Sarin to see if my initial impression of him wasn't colored by his overstern demeanor...

It definitely doesn't sound harmless. The Harmonium certainly isn't harmless. Its, trying to stay away from real world comparisons, the equivalent of a forced religious conversion by military force. In the eyes of that religion, its actions are 'correct'. In the eyes of the guys being coverted and in terms of modern ideas of morality, its pretty awful. But it isn't inconsistent with having Good-aligned members or even a Good-aligned factol. There are two reasons for this, one a part of the setting and the other just a general thing about responsibility.

1. Alignment is 'conspicuously' broad in Planescape - Good is the color of your shirt, not a statement about your character. Someone who mind-wiped/Sanctify-the-Wicked'd every living being in the multiverse may very well be the paragon of what the Lawful Good alignment means. Or maybe the universe hasn't even passed judgement on that yet because its waiting to see what people believe after they're faced with it. The mundane, every day desires of 'I want to make my own decisions' or 'I want to choose my own destiny' come into conflict with cosmic absolutes and philosophies such as 'anything you do that doesn't optimally reduce suffering causes it' and you get tension and story. Since Planescape is a setting about philosophy, it tries to muddy the water rather than clarify them and tries to create lots of uncomfortable things for people to discuss and work through and decide what they think.

2. One can't be responsible for not accomplishing the impossible. Consider someone like Sarin - lets say they actually are a real, true-blue, good person in the colloquial every-day sense rather than the cosmic sense. They do not want to commit any act of evil or wrongdoing, perpetrate any injustice, etc.

Now, give them the opportunity to either try to lead the Harmonium or be a beat cop in a tiny town. Lets also say that most of the Harmonium members aren't nearly as idealistic and good as they are. It is better for the cause of good as a whole for them to take the leadership position despite the compromises it might bring rather than leave it to someone else. For this to make sense, you have to accept that Sarin can't just wave his hands and change Harmonium policy, any more than e.g. the president of the US could wave his hands and force Congress to do what he wants all the time. Instead, we can see Sarin as someone trying to lead by example, promoting the ideal of Harmony in the best way he can while burdened with the fact that every day, members of his factions are making compromises on the Harmonium's ideals in order to get the job done.

Or maybe Sarin is just a crusader in the bloody forcible conversion sense, but the universe says crusading is all well and good so long as its crusading for the right cause. Its hard to say, because we don't actually know that much about Sarin I think. What I can see in Factol's Manifesto suggests that Sarin restricts himself to actions that satisfy the credo of law, honor, and good. And that Sarin personally arrests people on a day to day basis (which suggests the lead by example thing). Given that the Harmonium are acting as cops in Sigil, this isn't just 'anyone with a C in their alignment' but rather people that break one of the various laws that the Guvners have tried to impose on the city. One can of course also question whether those laws are just, but I think this gets even further afield.

But at the end of the day, the important thing is that Sarin is a character, not just a class and alignment.

Paseo H
2013-08-03, 07:44 AM
1. Given how long this discussion has gone on, the setting most assuredly does muddy the waters, which was my point. Most people don't want to think THAT hard on things. Granted, when I was reading it in my youth, I was like "ooh, so Lawful Good really is evil? Awesome!"

2. Sarin is a miserable pile of secrets. No, really, we don't know anything about him, as you said, but what little I've seen doesn't inspire confidence that he's as noble as Vimes, as someone said above.

Now tell me, how does your "well the Lawful Goods aren't meaningfully, damningly responsible for complicity with the atrocities of the Lawful Evils" view mesh with the recent happenings on Arcadia? Surely it wasn't all Lawful Neutrals/Evils knowing of it, nor not all only CE creatures subjected to it.

Of course, that's another thing...the reason people do a double take on the whole Orthos thing is because it's clear that the CG races were also subjected to Lawful unkindness and purging the same as CE monster races. But what if they had only butchered the CN/CE races? It brings to mind the whole debate about V and Familicide. Even if the idea of killing all the CE monster races doesn't chafe as badly as putting every CG elf and fairy to the sword in the name of freedom hating Lawful chauvinism, the whole idea of whether a "cold calculus" comes into play would apply.

Yora
2013-08-03, 11:01 AM
One important thing about planescape is, that all the source material does not consist of the words of the creators explaining their vision of the setting to the audience, but propaganda written by characters within the setting itself. And that's really one of the things that makes Planescape unique (well, and Paranoia perhaps). You can't completely trust anything! All you have is personal views and oppinions, that are frequently conflicting with each other.
All the readers, and therefore the players, can take away is that they will have to make up their own descisions which descriptions they are tending to give more weight than the others.

Ambigious uncertainty is a major element of the setting.

Eldan
2013-08-03, 11:03 AM
That is especially important for the Factol's Manifesto, where a lot of the information about the Harmonium comes from. It's a piece of research by one reporter with his own agenda.

That said, the closest you're getting to an absolute truth are the adventures the players experience first hand. And those paint the Harmonium pretty badly.

Yora
2013-08-03, 11:10 AM
But again, they show certain people associated with the Harmonium as being pretty bad. Still leaves the question of how representable they are of the faction as a whole, spanning all the planes.

Eldan
2013-08-03, 12:06 PM
Arcadia is their planar HQ. That is pretty much under the noses of every officer.

Ashdate
2013-08-03, 12:22 PM
Arcadia is their planar HQ. That is pretty much under the noses of every officer.

Arcadia (like most planes) isn't a small place; at the time it had three giant layers. Most Harmonium were unlikely to be visiting them all very often. And according to the Factol's Manifesto, Factol Sarin was pretty much glued to Sigil. It was likely rare that he visited Arcadia, and when he did it probably wasn't to the camps on the third layer.

NichG
2013-08-03, 03:08 PM
Now tell me, how does your "well the Lawful Goods aren't meaningfully, damningly responsible for complicity with the atrocities of the Lawful Evils" view mesh with the recent happenings on Arcadia? Surely it wasn't all Lawful Neutrals/Evils knowing of it, nor not all only CE creatures subjected to it.


Its muddying the waters again. One way the setting could have gone would have been the utterly cynical - the LG's can get away with anything, no consequences, because alignment is really just a lie. But with the fall of the Arcadia layer, now its not so clear - there are evidently things that go too far, and who knows what the straw that broke the camel's back actually was?

But really, I'm not sure why all the focus on the Harmonium. They aren't about being Lawful Good, they're about Order. They just happen to have a lawful good factol right now.

Honestly, the best place for a character whose 'thing' is being LG without compromise rather than following any particular faction philosophy would be the Indeps, because they're basically the grab bag of 'so you don't like the factions, come here and do your own thing'. Alternately, play a Xaositect and if someone says 'but you have to be chaotic to be part of our organization' just fix them with a meaningful stare and move on with your day.

Paseo H
2013-08-03, 03:27 PM
Its muddying the waters again. One way the setting could have gone would have been the utterly cynical - the LG's can get away with anything, no consequences, because alignment is really just a lie. But with the fall of the Arcadia layer, now its not so clear - there are evidently things that go too far, and who knows what the straw that broke the camel's back actually was?

But really, I'm not sure why all the focus on the Harmonium. They aren't about being Lawful Good, they're about Order. They just happen to have a lawful good factol right now.

Honestly, the best place for a character whose 'thing' is being LG without compromise rather than following any particular faction philosophy would be the Indeps, because they're basically the grab bag of 'so you don't like the factions, come here and do your own thing'. Alternately, play a Xaositect and if someone says 'but you have to be chaotic to be part of our organization' just fix them with a meaningful stare and move on with your day.

1. Alignments being a lie after all would actually be the perfect solution to the problem. After all, if they're a lie, then nobody can say that the LG types are really LG anyway, and we'll be free to judge them as we please.

I refer again to the comic, with Miko saying something to the Order like "I'm still a paladin, whether you like it or not." Implying that because she's a paladin and not fallen, she's right because she's LG and how dare they question her authority as a LG paladin. It's kind of like that, when I read the books. They (not the Harmonium, but a separate set of LG antagonists, from the Well of Worlds supplement) imprison and experiment on magical horses and yet we're supposed to believe they're LG because they're doing it "for the greater good."

Necessary evils, if necessary they be, are still evil.

2. I could explain why the Harmonium in particular is my focus, and I'm not saying this to imply that you haven't been listening, but I feel like I've been endlessly reiterating my point. That's my flaw, not yours, so you'll excuse me if I just leave this unanswered.

3. Yeah, that's one solution. Incidentally, I don't dislike the Guvners (trying to hack reality through rule lawyering sounds kinda cool actually) or the Mercykillers (they at least don't pretend not to be psycho Knight Templar types). It's the Harmonium that bother me because of the incongruity of it all.

NichG
2013-08-03, 04:27 PM
3. Yeah, that's one solution. Incidentally, I don't dislike the Guvners (trying to hack reality through rule lawyering sounds kinda cool actually) or the Mercykillers (they at least don't pretend not to be psycho Knight Templar types). It's the Harmonium that bother me because of the incongruity of it all.

I really do think every faction is meant to both have something compelling and something that makes you facepalm or go 'thats awful, whats wrong with them'.

The Sensates are basically hedonists - maybe not the heroes of the planes, but at least they're having fun and partying, that makes sense from a personal point of view. But then when you get to the extremist Sensates you get people saying things like 'I want to experience ultimate suffering, because I haven't experienced it before' or 'I want to feel what its like to die' or 'I want to be partially transformed into green slime' or even just the kind of silly 'hey, I haven't tasted this dirt before...' It takes something that is apparently simple and easy to get along with and then complicates it by a weird side.

The Athar are anti-god revolutionaries basically. But then you find that they have a lot of former clerics who still get spells from some faith in a 'Great Unknown'. Why does it work, whats going on there, are they still believing in a deity but just in another form? And you have Factol Terrence, who isn't really on bad terms with the being that was his deity, but just believes in something bigger. And at the same time you have Athar who are trying to go out and assassinate deities via messing with their worship base for no reason other than the fact that they're gods.

The Bleakers are a natural expression of the cynicism of the setting. You could easily have a seen-it-all adventurer who isn't awed by anything and doesn't believe in anything as a Bleaker. But then you get the extreme end of the faction with people who can't even summon the will to act in any way.

The Belivers of the Source are kind of interesting. At the low end they start with 'hard work and diligence are rewarded' combined with a sort of karma-esque belief, but it turns into a cult trying to create new deities at the high end (iirc Harbinger House was the module that explored this).

And so on...

Porthos
2013-08-03, 05:43 PM
But really, I'm not sure why all the focus on the Harmonium.

Because they are a great stand in for every argument about badly played paladins, ever. And we all know how much people argue about paladins. :smallwink:

The fact that they are not all paladins, are not all LG, and are not all bad is irrelevant when it comes to the 'standing in for' debate. The Harmonium are, by reputation, Bad Paladins Taken To Eleven.

And reputation is far more important than truth at times. Especially in a setting like Planescape where Belief = Reality. :smallwink:

===

Let me give a for instance. When I first looked over all of the various factions way back when, I metaphorically puked when I got to the Harmonium. That if you scratch under their surface you might find some more interesting things, was irrelvant to me. They pressed all of my BadWrongNo buttons. There were others that did as well (The Fated, for instance), but that lept out. Which was disappointing because I like playing paladins.

I also wonder just how much of the stacking the deck against the Harmonium by the writers was a Take That to a, how to put this, certain worldview that isn't exactly popular with many gamers and creative types. :smallwink:

Eldan
2013-08-03, 06:01 PM
So, not really on topic, but I just want to sum up today's session to someone, because it was awesome.

The party wanted to get from Sigil to the gates of hte Moon on Ysgard. Sadly, the gate they entered took them off-course.

They ended up on a mile-high, forested pillar of rock in an ocean of magma. Luckily, that pillar was inhabited by an awakened bear who had affixed masts and sails to the entire rock and was sailing it as her fishing boat. She agreed to take them to the Gates.

On the way, they were assaulted by three rowboats full of fire giant pirates. The boats were disabled by, in order, a reverse gravity spell from a rod of wonder, a large bag of mixed alchemical explosives and the psionic power Time Hop, which moved one boat almost a minute into the future, leaving the crew behind.

Of course, the fire giant captain had a suit of winged adamantine plate, so what followed was an aerial battle between it and my players who came riding on their giant cyborg dragonflies.

In the end, the most difficult part was finding a way to salvage the fire giant's corpse with the armour on it without it falling into the magma ocean, because they really wanted it. Proving again that nothing motives player like expensive loot.



The Sensates are basically hedonists - maybe not the heroes of the planes, but at least they're having fun and partying, that makes sense from a personal point of view. But then when you get to the extremist Sensates you get people saying things like 'I want to experience ultimate suffering, because I haven't experienced it before' or 'I want to feel what its like to die' or 'I want to be partially transformed into green slime' or even just the kind of silly 'hey, I haven't tasted this dirt before...' It takes something that is apparently simple and easy to get along with and then complicates it by a weird side.

Actually, those are the kind of Sensates the management wants. Those who just like the pleasurable sensations are quietly sent away to an inescapable magic party house on Ysgard, never to return.

And the Athar's faith is actually pretty well explained. They think that there has to be an omnipotent divine force of creation somewhere in the planes. They also think that, quite clearly, it's not the gods as we know them. Hence, The Unknown.

The important thing about the Bleakers is that they are not primarily cynics (that would be some Xaositects), but Nihilists. What makes them awesome is that they believe that the universe is pointless and cruel, then fall into despair so hard that they come out the other side. They make their own purpose in the world. It's being nice to one another. The nihilists are the most charitable faction out there.

BWR
2013-08-03, 06:12 PM
I really do think every faction is meant to both have something compelling and something that makes you facepalm or go 'thats awful, whats wrong with them'.

The Sensates are basically hedonists - maybe not the heroes of the planes, but at least they're having fun and partying, that makes sense from a personal point of view. But then when you get to the extremist Sensates you get people saying things like 'I want to experience ultimate suffering, because I haven't experienced it before' or 'I want to feel what its like to die' or 'I want to be partially transformed into green slime' or even just the kind of silly 'hey, I haven't tasted this dirt before...' It takes something that is apparently simple and easy to get along with and then complicates it by a weird side.

The Athar are anti-god revolutionaries basically. But then you find that they have a lot of former clerics who still get spells from some faith in a 'Great Unknown'. Why does it work, whats going on there, are they still believing in a deity but just in another form? And you have Factol Terrence, who isn't really on bad terms with the being that was his deity, but just believes in something bigger. And at the same time you have Athar who are trying to go out and assassinate deities via messing with their worship base for no reason other than the fact that they're gods.

The Bleakers are a natural expression of the cynicism of the setting. You could easily have a seen-it-all adventurer who isn't awed by anything and doesn't believe in anything as a Bleaker. But then you get the extreme end of the faction with people who can't even summon the will to act in any way.

The Belivers of the Source are kind of interesting. At the low end they start with 'hard work and diligence are rewarded' combined with a sort of karma-esque belief, but it turns into a cult trying to create new deities at the high end (iirc Harbinger House was the module that explored this).

And so on...

This is just the surface, the Namers, the ones who don't quite get it.

The Sensates are not just hedonists, they are the ultimate in learning by experience. You can argue all you want about philosophy and deeper meanings and truth, but the real truth is that experience is everything. Experience is knowledge, knowledge is self. You can read all you want about somebody's trip to Arborea, but theat will just be words. The only reality there is the one you expereince, the smells, the sights, the sounds, the feelings. Words don't get you all that far. The only truths you will truly know are the ones you learn for yourself, based on your own experience. The only way to get a good, balanced life is to experience as much of life as you can.

The most important part of the Bleakers is not the jaded veteran or the scarred apathetic madman, but the kind, caring charity worker. More than any other organization, they do not worry about trying to prove themselves right or gain political power, but help the needy. There is no great purpose to life, just what you choose. That may not help much when despair comes crushing in but in the end, the Bleakers work to alleviate suffering and help people. Just because life sucks doesn't mean you have to make it worse. Maybe you can make it suck just a little bit less.

And Harbinger House was hardly the end result of all Godsmen activity. An interesting concept and experiment, but not the final step for all Godsmen. Not even most; only a small, small fraction. Honestly, if they all just moved to Mystara they would have a nice little way of becoming gods Immortals all set out for them.:smallwink:

NichG
2013-08-03, 06:26 PM
I also wonder just how much of the stacking the deck against the Harmonium by the writers was a Take That to a, how to put this, certain worldview that isn't exactly popular with many gamers and creative types. :smallwink:

This is actually pretty likely, given what they as a company were dealing with at the time. Supposedly the Lady of Pain was a bit of a poke at Lorraine Williams.

navar100
2013-08-03, 06:26 PM
So, according to Planescape, Evil wins because there's no such thing as Lawful Good. Lawful Good, or any Good, is just another form of Evil in disguise. Pelor really is the Burning Hate. Zaphkiel really is Asmodeous.

Eldan
2013-08-03, 06:41 PM
So, according to Planescape, Evil wins because there's no such thing as Lawful Good. Lawful Good, or any Good, is just another form of Evil in disguise. Pelor really is the Burning Hate. Zaphkiel really is Asmodeous.

Not really. I mean, you have to bend canon a bit, but you always have to consider this:

Adventures deal with extraordinary circumstances. The players are shown some terrible Harmonium members, bullying indeps or building prison camps, but the books say that those are a minority, an exception and doing it in secret.

Furthermore, the Harmonium is one faction among fifteen. And they are not lawful good, they are primarily lawful, leaning a bit towards good on average. Many other factions can have good and lawful good members.

Finally, just because no faction totally exemplifies the lawful good alingment does not mean that the alignment does not exist. There's still a heaven and there are still mortals who are good.

The intended message isn't "There's no good". The intended message is "The alignments are more complex than you might tihnk and just because an organisation is mostly one alignment doesn't mean they can't have exceptions among their members."

Porthos
2013-08-04, 02:26 AM
This is actually pretty likely, given what they as a company were dealing with at the time. Supposedly the Lady of Pain was a bit of a poke at Lorraine Williams.

Which is ironic given how popular Her Serenity has become over the years. :smallamused:

BWR
2013-08-04, 04:04 AM
Not really. I mean, you have to bend canon a bit, but you always have to consider this:

Adventures deal with extraordinary circumstances. The players are shown some terrible Harmonium members, bullying indeps or building prison camps, but the books say that those are a minority, an exception and doing it in secret.

Furthermore, the Harmonium is one faction among fifteen. And they are not lawful good, they are primarily lawful, leaning a bit towards good on average. Many other factions can have good and lawful good members.

Finally, just because no faction totally exemplifies the lawful good alingment does not mean that the alignment does not exist. There's still a heaven and there are still mortals who are good.

The intended message isn't "There's no good". The intended message is "The alignments are more complex than you might tihnk and just because an organisation is mostly one alignment doesn't mean they can't have exceptions among their members."

Exactly.
Just read the description of the LG planes. They are Lawful, they are Good. They are generally nice places to live. Are all LG people alike? No. Some can be pretty nasty despite being LG. Some LG folks are saintly.
How people get from "the Harmonium are kind of jerks" to "LG is a lie and stupid" is beyond me.

Yora
2013-08-04, 04:38 AM
Also, I always was under the impression that the Harmonium is LN. They just hang out in Arcadia, which is leaning a bit towards good, because Mechanus is too weird and not suitable for humanoid settlement. And since they believe they are creating an utopian society, they would of course chose Arcadia over Archeron.
The Harmonium are mostly humans, not outsiders. They can hang out on any plane they like.

Aharon
2013-08-04, 04:43 AM
Cutter: a compliment. Resourceful or daring person.

"Hey, you sass that blood Adahn? There's a cutter who really knows where his Mimir is."

Yeah for the PS:T reference :smallbiggrin:

Asmodai
2013-08-04, 05:24 AM
Again... Harmonium is not the LG faction. They are a pure Lawful faction. Their Factol is Lawful Good, but in the same way that Vimes is Lawful Good. The fun part is that Sarin may not even be the best option for what the Harmonium are really about (it shows up a number of times with the factions, the epitomes of the philosophy are not necessarily the best politicians that become the bosses). Also do keep in mind that Sarin was not the one that caused or ordered the Arcadia fiasco.

Also do keep in mind that the Factions represent a different outlook and philosophy in life, one more complex (and arguably extreme) then the alignments. They are an excellent way to show that the alignments are essentially principles and that the principles are exactly as flexible as the person implementing them.

Eldan
2013-08-04, 05:36 AM
Also, I always was under the impression that the Harmonium is LN. They just hang out in Arcadia, which is leaning a bit towards good, because Mechanus is too weird and not suitable for humanoid settlement. And since they believe they are creating an utopian society, they would of course chose Arcadia over Archeron.
The Harmonium are mostly humans, not outsiders. They can hang out on any plane they like.

Mechanus is not actually that uninhabitable. Sure, chances are if you take a random portal there, you end up on a metallic wasteland or between cogs waiting to crush you.

But it's important to remember that there are some cogs the size of continents that have, well, continents on them. There are citadels and cities and entire countries on some cogs.

Of course, you still have inhabitants made from floating crystals and living differential equations to contend with. But they are rarely actively hostile, just weird.

Yora
2013-08-04, 05:43 AM
Are there even any Good factions? I guess some people from the Sensates and Doomguard would probably be safely considered Good, but I still wouldn't asign that lable to the factions as a whole.

Paseo H
2013-08-04, 08:56 AM
Adventures deal with extraordinary circumstances. The players are shown some terrible Harmonium members, bullying indeps or building prison camps, but the books say that those are a minority, an exception and doing it in secret.


Yes, well...

The ones taking their cruel, tyrannical Anti-Chaotic viewpoint to its logical, terrible conclusion may be the minority, but that doesn't mean the majority are trustworthy or decent or don't abuse non-lawfuls in lesser ways.

Also, in general, the problem is not that the Harmonium is this way, the problem is that they're this way while still supposedly having Lawful Goods at the top of the heap, without explaining to our satisfaction how the Lawful Goods tolerate their atrocities, thus leaving us to having these discussions on message boards that are bordering dangerously on becoming a re-enactment of the Argument Clinic sketch.

Yora
2013-08-04, 09:37 AM
That's the nature of alignment. A dumb system that should never have been introduced in the first place and is best ignores.
Planescape works perfectly find with alignment only being planar forces and not being actually connected to the personalties of characters. I even think that Planescape is supposed to work that way, over a decade before Eberron.

Paseo H
2013-08-04, 12:43 PM
So yeah...anywhere this particular conversation can go now?

NichG
2013-08-04, 03:45 PM
Well there's always fun recounting of fondly remembered Planescape sessions. I have to say mine was probably the case of a Beastlands monkey stealing one end of a spool of infinite thread from a Fire Genasi PC and running through the jungle (and a couple of portals) with it.

There was also a steampunk-style necromancer on the Quasi-elemental Plane of Lightning who managed to creep out a gnomish-inventor-type PC by falling in love at first sight and wanting to show off her 'works' to him.

On the Awful-Lawful thread of things, there was the time that the party rescued a Shard of Selune from a prison on Mechanus - her crime was following a Guvner she was sweet on there when he got reassigned.

There was also the time when the party Sensate was called in to be a panel judge for an interplanar cooking contest to replace the Jade Emperor's court chef (and there was a whole bunch of backstabbing going on amidst the chefs that the rest of the party hired on to investigate, retrieve stolen ingredients for, etc).

It kind of makes me sad that I've only had a chance to DM Planescape, never really play it as a player (well, thats not entirely true, I've been in at least two campaigns that have included Sigil but they weren't really Planescape-focused campaigns - one was a Slayers crossover and the other a game where basically we had a deal with a deity who could make a door to anywhere we requested in exchange for a bit of our souls - e.g. XP).

VariSami
2013-08-04, 04:53 PM
Fond memories? Oh boy, I have only ran one Planescape game thus far but it was such great fun.

- The characters received ownership of an inn in the Lower Wards, near the Shattered Temple, and it had some connection to the Astral. From the outside it only had one floor but the stairs did lead to a second and even a third floor. However, the windows of the rooms in these extra floors showed nothing but grey mist and the previous owner had underlined that they must be kept closed at all times. The one who inherited it from her exposed Anarchist caretaker, a chaotic neutral Githyanki bore with a past of cruelties, was an Anarchist posing as a Chaosman and she invited her Chaosman friends over for a paintjob. Before, the little tavern part had seemed to twist space to accommodate longer distances than was observable. However, once the Chaosmen were done with their renovation, a lot of things simply changed: now gravity had become relative to the surface you were touching and the windows in the second floor clearly showed Xaos; those in the third floor led to Limbo.

- The last room to the left was to be inspected since some customers had gone missing. The doorway was a portal to a bordello in the underworld of Automata when approached from the inside, and the portkey was stolen money. They sent in a regular customer, a female Guvner Kender who had been studying the planar oddities in the inn. Yes, a Guvner Kender - and I am still quite proud of the character for the players actually found her likable. Being a Kender, though, she had some "borrowed" jink and simply vanished. The players did eventually find out the truth and follow her but they were welcomed by a committee of thugs sent to guard the room where people had been appearing. This led to negotiations with the mistress - and due to circumstances, the party's Tiefling rogue received very special treatment. I still remember the face of my players when they were served live soul larva and the mistress simply forked hers in the face out of nowhere. Oh, and that special treatment? Let us say that he took his time to carefully remove the soul larva up his rectum. And never discussed what had really happened with the rest of the party. Also, the poor Kender's treatment led to an uproar against their hosts despite the deal they had struck being upheld. Again, I am proud of having had a Kender arouse much more sympathy than your average NPC.

Calmar
2013-08-04, 05:05 PM
That said, the Harmonium can have many interpretations. I generally run the Sigil branch as generally well-meaning cops who are totally out of their depth, surrounded by crazy philosophers who want to stop them from doing their job, perpetually starved for resources and far down the command chain from a distant, disconnected and only faintly remembered home world full of bureaucrats who regularly send results asking why this entire Sigil business isn't over yet and when they can start the next invasion of the Abyss.
That might be a bit of a far-stretched interpretation by me, but with Planescape being a 90s thing and the way they are described in the sources, the Harmonium always seemed to me to parallel the anti-war themes of the post-Vietnam era - not by being an expy (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Expy) or metaphor for the USA in particular, but on the contrary by resembling 'the military' and 'foreign intervention' in general. The Harmonium are a modernly-structured and militarily organised Faction, coming from a distant material world with the well-meaning intention to intervene on the planes in order to instill their way into the planars. But by being thugs to the people of Sigil and by maintaining re-education camps in Arcadia they become villains themselves.
To me, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket would be the archetype of the Harmonium officer.


On the possible lack of overall success of the setting, i think:

Planescape is my favourite among the official TSR/WotC campaign settings, but Planescape feels intimidating and hard to run properly.

Planescape is vast. Sigil is pretty much the central hub of the multiverse; as a DM, I feel you have to have a solid knowledge of all the factions, planes (and layers), deities, fiendish and celestial forces, of Sigil and its important inhabitants.

Planescape is demanding. In a generic setting, like Forgotten Realms, or Greyhawk, it's easy to pick some remote settlement where your game begins and piece together some "hunt down the orc raiders", or "the mayor is a doppelgänger" plot, or just a random dungeon crawl and throw it on your players; from there you can expand the scope of your game. On the other hand, Planescape to me demands thoughtful adventures about character developement and decision, possibly spirituality and wonder, where the fighting plays a minor role.

It is surreal. Planescape is a stark contrast to the typical Middle-Ages- like settings. One and one's players must be quite familiar with what's 'normal' in a D&D setting and campaign to appreciate the unusuality and weirdness of Planescape.

Paseo H
2013-08-04, 07:56 PM
To me, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket would be the archetype of the Harmonium officer.

You see, this is kind of how I interpreted Sarin from what I read about him. I think the Factol's Manifesto has a few words straight from the mouth of each Factol, right? In Sarin's case it was like a lecture to newbie Harmonium.

But for some reason everyone else seems to interpret him as nicer than that.

Oh, and I just remembered something...I seem to recall reading that the Harmonium go after those who leave the faction?

Ashdate
2013-08-04, 08:07 PM
Oh, and I just remembered something...I seem to recall reading that the Harmonium go after those who leave the faction?

There isn't anything like that in the Factol's Manifesto that I can read that would suggest that. Perhaps you were thinking of the Mercykillers? They're not that tyrannical, but depending on the reason you left the faction (i.e. if you broke the law), they'd probably be inclined to 'go after' you.

Paseo H
2013-08-04, 08:26 PM
There isn't anything like that in the Factol's Manifesto that I can read that would suggest that. Perhaps you were thinking of the Mercykillers? They're not that tyrannical, but depending on the reason you left the faction (i.e. if you broke the law), they'd probably be inclined to 'go after' you.

Okay, I'll table that for now.

Oh, and Nich, I'd love to hear about your adventure freeing the Shard of Selune.

NichG
2013-08-05, 12:29 AM
It involved the PCs climbing over the inner workings of a giant clock, including various timed ratchets which would slam down (and provide a ride back up to higher points in the clock or crush you depending on your timing), interlocking gears where you had to step through the gaps in the right order (and you could only observe parts of the overall pattern from the safe entry position), etc. The party flew over it on the way in, but that was a lot of castings for the wizard, so they had to hoof it on the way back. I was pretty proud of the gear puzzle that comprised the actual prison - you had to use the fact that it was a prison, and so the only safe way through works to let you in but not to let you out (except that the party had a guy who had taken over the controls that reverse the direction of the gears).

As far as the plot went, the Guvner was basically a chaos theory kind of guy, studying the chaotic planes with the idea that even they followed some kinds of laws. Since Limbo is difficult and Pandemonium is hostile, a place like the Gates of the Moon in Ysgard was a good place to start. The party had just come back after a trip on the Infinite Staircase, and they had already made friends there, so when they heard about what happened they agreed to give it a shot and rescue the errant shard.

It ended up being the concluding session of the campaign due to people going elsewhere for the summer. The campaign was pretty rambling, without there really being a clear BBEG or anything that the party was set against - just a bunch of planar wanderers exploring things and seeing what was going on. I was going to introduce stuff from Tales from the Infinite Staircase to slowly build up to something but it didn't really take.

Paseo H
2013-08-05, 02:22 AM
So he kept her prisoner to research/interrogate her on Chaos-y stuff? Interesting.

In any case, while certainly not cool of him, it's not quite outside the bounds of Lawful Neutral so it passes the smell test as it were. It's just that you have in one supplement a similar scenario happen, only the perpetrator was Lawful Good, which at the time I was intrigued by the idea of Lawful Good being proven evil, but now I'm like "geez what were they thinking?"

Calmar
2013-08-05, 03:36 AM
You see, this is kind of how I interpreted Sarin from what I read about him. I think the Factol's Manifesto has a few words straight from the mouth of each Factol, right? In Sarin's case it was like a lecture to newbie Harmonium.

But for some reason everyone else seems to interpret him as nicer than that.

'Good' does not necessarily mean 'nice'. Also, the Hartman types of hardliners of the world, and the Harmonium, sincerely believe that the order they adhere to is the most beneficial way of life for everyone. What makes it bad is that they sacrifice the happiness of others to implement their philosophy - and that the Planescape-writers (or just the narrator persona of the sourcebooks) are opposed to the Harmonium's policing and its militaristic drill. :smallwink:

Yora
2013-08-05, 07:24 AM
We really should make a Planescape thread in the old editions forum.

NichG
2013-08-05, 08:13 AM
So he kept her prisoner to research/interrogate her on Chaos-y stuff? Interesting.

In any case, while certainly not cool of him, it's not quite outside the bounds of Lawful Neutral so it passes the smell test as it were. It's just that you have in one supplement a similar scenario happen, only the perpetrator was Lawful Good, which at the time I was intrigued by the idea of Lawful Good being proven evil, but now I'm like "geez what were they thinking?"

No, other way around. He didn't keep her prisoner. The forces of Mechanus took her prisoner because she was basically the proxy of a god of chaos who just decided to follow her romantic interest into the plane of Law (without asking or permits or whatever). The Guvner was, for his part, horrified at what happened and asked the party to help her out.

Eldan
2013-08-05, 08:16 AM
We really should make a Planescape thread in the old editions forum.

I'd rather put it in the overall game thread. More exposure, and I know more people playing it in third edition than second.

Paseo H
2013-08-05, 08:35 AM
No, other way around. He didn't keep her prisoner. The forces of Mechanus took her prisoner because she was basically the proxy of a god of chaos who just decided to follow her romantic interest into the plane of Law (without asking or permits or whatever). The Guvner was, for his part, horrified at what happened and asked the party to help her out.

Yeah, that's what I realized after I posted that.

In any case, yeah, not expecting a fair shake from Lawful Neutrals.

Psyren
2013-08-05, 08:39 AM
...berk.

Yeah, the slang really turned me off Planescape. Even if I could drop it from my games, just about any Planescape discussion I had with anyone else would bring the stuff back in (or make me feel like I wasn't really playing Planescape.) But that's not even my biggest problem with the system.


People buy games (and settings) as they are, though. No matter how much the online gaming crowd says "you can just refluff it," the vast majority of the actual gaming public buys games as they are, not as a framework of rules with skins that can be swapped out. Unless that's built into the game (a la Gurps or Hero System), it's not how people think of games. The objections to Planescape are a good example of this.

Agreed - the idea is to make something with broad appeal and then point out ways it can be altered for a niche audience, not the other way around. Eberron and Golarion are great examples of how to do this right, being kitchen-sink fantasy with a vibrant tapestry and lots of guidelines and hooks. Notice that neither setting has a central power figure like the Lady either. Nor matter how little she interferes with anything in practice, her mere shadow looms large over the setting.

And what is the underlying mystery of Planescape? What is the main conflict? I was never clear on that. Eberron has the Prophecy, and just about everything can be tied to that if you tunnel down far enough. Ravenloft has the Mists. FR has the Shar/Selune(/Mystra) conflict underlying most of the other big plays. Dark Sun is a giant metaphor for global warming. Golarion has an OotS-esque Snarl scenario going on. What's Planescape all about? The one mystery is the Lady, and nobody sane probes too deeply into that one, or feels they need to care. And therefore I find it hard to care too.

Beleriphon
2013-08-05, 08:47 AM
What's Planescape all about? The one mystery is the Lady, and nobody sane probes too deeply into that one, or feels they need to care. And therefore I find it hard to care too.

Thus the Faction War adventure. Planescape was about exploring the planes, but that is way to broad to really work. So TSR published Faction War, kicked the factions out of Sigil and tried to reinforce the explore the planes bit. Prior to that many of the mysteries were derived from Sigil and the environs there in.

Yora
2013-08-05, 08:56 AM
And thus, apparently a great majority of fans decided to pretend Faction War never happened.

Eldan
2013-08-05, 10:11 AM
Faction War had a lot of great ideas. I remember designer interview about it that could, more or less be summed up as "Planescape was about weirdness and mystery. But players became too comfortable with sitting in Sigil. They knew the factions and their philosophies and what to expect from them. So we wanted to change Sigil completely, overthrow the factions, change them, put something new in their place."

Sadly, they never got that far: they got to the "overthrow" stage and then Planescape was cancelled. It would have been interesting to see what they came up with.

Psyren
2013-08-05, 10:26 AM
And thus, apparently a great majority of fans decided to pretend Faction War never happened.

Faction What? Never heard of it.

Wait, is that some kind of Spellplague-y "shaking things up" world event? Rather than an undderlying conflict baked into the setting from the beginning like all the others I described?


Faction War had a lot of great ideas. I remember designer interview about it that could, more or less be summed up as "Planescape was about weirdness and mystery. But players became too comfortable with sitting in Sigil. They knew the factions and their philosophies and what to expect from them. So we wanted to change Sigil completely, overthrow the factions, change them, put something new in their place."

Sadly, they never got that far: they got to the "overthrow" stage and then Planescape was cancelled. It would have been interesting to see what they came up with.

And that's the problem - it never got popular enough to survive because there was no underlying hook to drive imaginations. By the time they came up with one it was too late.

Yora
2013-08-05, 10:26 AM
I never understood the kind of plan that goes "let's change the elements that hardcore fans are accustomed to to reach out to a larger audience". I think it usually ends with the old fans being deeply disappointed and non-fans still not starting to become interested.

Eldan
2013-08-05, 10:31 AM
I don't think they wanted to reach out to a larger audience. They wanted to keep the setting fresh, because once you are familiar with it, it has lost a lot.

And no, the Faction War wasn't out of nowhere, it was hinted at very early.

Short version of the story: the Factions hate each other. They stop fighting covertly and start fighting openly. The Lady intervenes and cuts Sigil off. One Factol (with help of the others) tries to pull a magical stunt that he thinks would make him ruler of Sigil. It fails, the Lady responds by mazing almost all the Factols, except one who was conveniently out of Sigil at the time (it was a faction ability that warned him) and one who ascended to a higher plane of existence instead.

It was a playable adventure and the fighting between factions was there since the first published books. The setting history also said that it wasn't the first time that this happened, to one extent or another.


Also, Planescape has plenty of hooks, secrets and mysteries. The nature of Sigil, of faith, of divinity. Entire planes that might or might not exist beyond the multiverse people commonly travel to (The Ordial, Hyperscape, parallel creations, Doors to the Unknown). The secrets of the blood war and how it started. The even older mysteries of the first Law-Chaos war and creation. All the secrets of the factions. There are progenitors of evil, the Baern, but apparently no progenitors of good that anyone knows. What terrible secret is imprisoned on Elysium? Where did Gith go and who put Vlaakith in charge? What is Factol Skall's real goal for the Dustmen? Who is Asmodeus? Who is the General of Gehenna? I don't think you'd ever run out of hooks.

Psyren
2013-08-05, 10:36 AM
I never understood the kind of plan that goes "let's change the elements that hardcore fans are accustomed to to reach out to a larger audience". I think it usually ends with the old fans being deeply disappointed and non-fans still not starting to become interested.

Looking at properties like Diablo 3, I'm inclined to agree with you.



And no, the Faction War wasn't out of nowhere, it was hinted at very early.

I don't think covert to open conflict counts; it's an entirely different dynamic. Eberron would change drastically if the great Houses went to open warfare again; ditto with the Golarion Lodges. It wouldn't just be a foreshadowed evolution, it would be functionally a new setting entirely.

Eldan
2013-08-05, 10:40 AM
Exactly. That was what they tried to do. They evolved covert into open conflict, so that they could change the setting, give it new and mysterious things. I quite like the Ring-Givers, myself.

Yora
2013-08-05, 10:52 AM
But Planescape without factions? What's left of the setting without them? Just a city without any important local figures and power groups. How would planescape be different from any Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms campaign, that has the characters visit the planes occasionally?

That's like Dark Sun without the Dragon Kings, or Forgotten Realms without Harpers, Zhentarim, and Red Wizards.

Eldan
2013-08-05, 10:55 AM
I heard some of the ideas they had. First, they wanted to bring a new political structure into Sigil to fill the void. Probably new sects of some kind. Second, all the old factions are still there, just in their planar strongholds instead of Sigil. In Sigil itself, they would have to work subtly and undercover, instead of wearing their colours openly.

It could easily have worked. I'm not saying it was the greatest idea, but I can understand why they did it. Sigil needs factions. It doesn't need Dustmen or Athar.

Ashdate
2013-08-05, 12:10 PM
But Planescape without factions? What's left of the setting without them? Just a city without any important local figures and power groups. How would planescape be different from any Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms campaign, that has the characters visit the planes occasionally?

That's like Dark Sun without the Dragon Kings, or Forgotten Realms without Harpers, Zhentarim, and Red Wizards.

The factions are still around, they've just largely moved their conflicts out of Sigil. In fact, many of the factions remain in Sigil too; they've just taken to calling themselves something else (i.e. the Sodkillers = the Minder's Guild), or continue to perform their function, while keeping their recruitment activities outside of Sigil (i.e. the Dustmen, the Bleak Cabal).

The point is that there's still room for plenty of political intrigue in Sigil, but that a lot of the conflict has now moved to the outer planes, where the quirkiness can shine. I think it was a good move overall.

While not perfect, the 3.5 "Planewalker" material is a good read for those interesting in hearing about what could come after.

Porthos
2013-08-05, 02:51 PM
Yeah, but now we're getting into one of the arguments held against White Wolf: The meta-plot.

When the meta-plot starts interferring with what you want to do as a group, people complain. Hell, the very existence of a meta-plot is anathema to some people.

And, of course, the risk of the meta-plot is if you do something with it that takes away something that is beloved to a group, even more people complain.

I completely understand the need for keeping things fresh. On the other hand, if there is no meta-plot, there is no need to keep things fresh. You just examine different things to explore in the setting.

To put it another way, meta-plots are a two edged sword. They can open up tremendous possibilities. But they can also cut you deep if you handle things badly.

Psyren
2013-08-05, 04:39 PM
I think it's generally better to have a meta-plot than not. Groups that like what you're doing gain direction and fodder for their own stories; groups that don't will simply rewind to prior to your most recent change, but still play in your setting and may even borrow elements from the later incarnations, or even warm up to the change over time. You may sell fewer (or no) new books to the latter group, but

Take Forgotten Realms for example - the meta-plot there, as I said before, is Selune (+ Mystra) vs. Shar. Every other deific conflict, and therefore every other grand faction's motivation in the world, is predicated by that. When the Spellplague happened, some people liked it, some people hated it, but the ones that hated it simply set their campaigns prior to it, or altered it so that certain events played out differently.

I think the best meta-plots are grand mysteries. Things that defy the internal rule structure of the world, like Ravenloft's Mists or the Draconic Prophecy.

Paseo H
2013-08-05, 06:13 PM
I might PM some of you for more on the Harmonium, since it's still interesting but I don't want to bog down the OP's thread with more of my personal pet peeves.

Instead, an issue that has more info and more "holy crap what was he/they thinking" factor readily available than the Harmonium.

I speak, of course, of Rowan Darkwood.

Begin.

Ashdate
2013-08-05, 06:25 PM
I speak, of course, of Rowan Darkwood.

Begin.

What is your issue with Rowan Darkwood?

Paseo H
2013-08-05, 06:26 PM
What is your issue with Rowan Darkwood?

Everything, basically. But I figure it's not just me, this time.

Ashdate
2013-08-05, 06:42 PM
He's a highly powerful factol in a setting with several highly powerful factols*. He ended up mazed like the rest of em all the same by the Lady.

What issue(s) in particular do you have with him?

Paseo H
2013-08-05, 06:49 PM
He's Neutral Good yet he did all that stuff. I mean, nothing wrong with opposing the Lady of Pain and trying to trick her, but the rest of the stuff makes him sound more Neutral Evil than Neutral Good. On top of being factol of the Fated.

I don't want to get too specific why the Fated is bad, but suffice to say, one of my main party members is a member due to her having a massive mental breakdown as a young woman and ended up becoming narcissistic. It seems to fit her mentality perfectly.

NichG
2013-08-05, 08:58 PM
Yeah, I run pre-Faction War stuff pretty much exclusively. The problem is that without the 'interesting new stuff coming in' you end up with the remaining organizations in Sigil being more like city government branches than philosophically interesting groups.

As far as Rowan Darkwood, he was basically pure ambition. Thats pretty spot on for the factol of the Fated. I mean, by the end of the run he had done something bad enough that the LoP gave him a special punishment of endlessly reliving his ultimate failure in a convoluted 1000 year timeloop - in its own way, thats a kind of success.

I don't find him incredibly compelling, but he makes for a decent 'bridge' antagonist (by which I mean, a link between mundane villains and cosmic villains - he's a mundane villain that is attempting to become cosmic).

I would agree that Darkwood's 'G' is somewhat ludicrous though, but you'll note that his alignment actually takes a ding during the course of Faction War. Its listed as CG in Factol's Manifesto but becomes CN (in the form of Gifad) during Faction War.

Paseo H
2013-08-05, 10:03 PM
Oh, does it? Well, I guess that makes it better then.

Darn, was hoping to get a better argument out of that one. :p

Plerumque
2013-08-05, 10:18 PM
Does anybody have some advice on how to DM Sigil (pre- Faction War) without much knowledge of Planescape? I'm running a planeshopping campaign on these boards that begins in Sigil, but don't have the books. Right now the two important factions regarding the players are the Mercykillers and Believers of the Source, so if anyone has some advice regarding roleplaying those factions believably, or just Sigil in general, that would be great.

Ashdate
2013-08-05, 10:26 PM
Does anybody have some advice on how to DM Sigil (pre- Faction War) without much knowledge of Planescape? I'm running a planeshopping campaign on these boards that begins in Sigil, but don't have the books. Right now the two important factions regarding the players are the Mercykillers and Believers of the Source, so if anyone has some advice regarding roleplaying those factions believably, or just Sigil in general, that would be great.

That's kind of like giving advice on how to drive a car without sitting the person behind the wheel!

Read up on the Planewalker material (www.planewalker.com); it's free, and despite being post-Faction War, it'll give you more of a grasp on the setting (which largely remains intact).

Plerumque
2013-08-05, 10:43 PM
I have, actually. I was just looking for some advice from those who have played and DMed the setting this part of the game is based on.

I suppose I should have made it clearer. I have read up to some extent on Sigil and the factions, so I am certainly not clueless, I suppose simply hoping for some tips on how to enrich the game a little.

NichG
2013-08-06, 12:08 AM
Get Uncaged: Faces of Sigil if you can. Its a book of NPCs that all have tangled connections with eachother and a number of complex subplots that result. Its great if you just need someone very distinctive and characteristically Planescape for the PCs to interact with.

In The Cage: A Guide to Sigil is also quite nice for having random flavorful businesses and the like, and gives a good feel for each of the wards.

If you can't get those, I'd say the main thing is to start with an idea, something weird or surreal that you want to explore. It could be a figurative question turned literal (like 'If a tree falls in the forest and no one can hear it, does it make a sound?'), some horrifying idea ('What if everything I'm seeing and interacting with is an illusion being used to control me?'), some bit of mythology or legend combined with mundane motivations ('Its said that the Simurgh will answer one question to anyone who finds it - we need the combination to Shemeskas personal vault'), or just let the players mess around with something surreal ('A Xaositect rewards you with a true lie. What do you use it for?').

Asmodai
2013-08-06, 12:02 PM
And what is the underlying mystery of Planescape? What is the main conflict? I was never clear on that. Eberron has the Prophecy, and just about everything can be tied to that if you tunnel down far enough. Ravenloft has the Mists. FR has the Shar/Selune(/Mystra) conflict underlying most of the other big plays. Dark Sun is a giant metaphor for global warming. Golarion has an OotS-esque Snarl scenario going on. What's Planescape all about? The one mystery is the Lady, and nobody sane probes too deeply into that one, or feels they need to care. And therefore I find it hard to care too.

As someone who's read a lot of the stuff you mentioned I have to say you're rather of the mark. Prophecy, Shompecy. Most games in Eberron don't even need it - It's enough to have a colorful setting with factions interested in messing people up and with original and fun ideas spread out - like the warforged and the manapunk approach (which, one might notice has quite some similarities with Planescape, the exact details nonwhitstanding)

Ravenloft is not about the Mists and never will be. The Mists are a plot contrivance and a horror from beyond that chooses to keep the place as it is. Your place in Ravenloft is to try to survive the horrors that call it home, and to explore the strange Lords while not turning into one yourself.

Dark Sun? Dark Sun is a reference to a different fantasy genre. it's destroyed through the abuse of Magic (kinda fitting for D&D) and the consequence is a arid harsh postapocalyptic setting where life is cheap, the villians are horribly powerful, and you get to try to survive... or go nuts and lead a revolution. Either way, whatever you do resources will be scarce and survival will be the first thing on your mind.




Also, Planescape has plenty of hooks, secrets and mysteries. The nature of Sigil, of faith, of divinity. Entire planes that might or might not exist beyond the multiverse people commonly travel to (The Ordial, Hyperscape, parallel creations, Doors to the Unknown). The secrets of the blood war and how it started. The even older mysteries of the first Law-Chaos war and creation. All the secrets of the factions. There are progenitors of evil, the Baern, but apparently no progenitors of good that anyone knows. What terrible secret is imprisoned on Elysium? Where did Gith go and who put Vlaakith in charge? What is Factol Skall's real goal for the Dustmen? Who is Asmodeus? Who is the General of Gehenna? I don't think you'd ever run out of hooks.

Blood War. And so, so, so much more. With the flair of its writing and the way the multiverse was presented Planescape was one of the most glorious things ever presented, and i still mine it for goodies almost 20 years later.

Ashdate
2013-08-06, 12:38 PM
I have, actually. I was just looking for some advice from those who have played and DMed the setting this part of the game is based on.

I suppose I should have made it clearer. I have read up to some extent on Sigil and the factions, so I am certainly not clueless, I suppose simply hoping for some tips on how to enrich the game a little.

Well, conflict between factions is pretty classic. My recommendation is to play to the setting's strengths: everyone has an agenda, and there should rarely be very clear-cut solutions.

As an example, if you wanted to use the Mercykillers and the Godsmen, I would borrow a page from the adventure Harbinger House. This is kind of a simplified version of it:

There is a murderer running around Sigil (or whatever plane you wish to have it on) who is killing sods. The killer is a barmy from a Godsman place where they were holding beings they thought might hold the spark needed to become a power. An indeed, this barmy does have some abilities (at your discretion) that most humans don't (think fighter with supernatural abilities). Unfortunately, the killer broke loose, and in the chaos, several other barmies - each with their own extraordinary abilties - broke loose too.

The Mercykillers are reacting to this the only way they know how: they're arresting all barmies they find, and often killing those who resist. They're particularly enraged, because this killer has killed a popular factotum in their faction.

The Godsmen, for their part, want this quietly to go away. They want their barmies back alive, including the one who has been stirring up all the trouble. But they don't want to make the Mercykillers mad, so they're trying to appear as if they are "cooperating".

The PCs are therefore presented one of two choices: they can help the Mercykillers hunt down this killer (and potentially help them imprison/kill several innocent barmies), or they can help the Godsmen sweep this under the rug (but would result in the killer not seeing himself tried for his crimes).

As a third option, they can choose to help neither faction, but of course, they'll have a lot harder or a time working by themselves.

That said, Harbinger House is a pretty nifty adventure, so if you have the opportunity/time, I'd recommend running it rather than a bastardized version of it.

Plerumque
2013-08-06, 12:43 PM
Hmm, thanks. I've set it where factions are conflicting, but outright war and revolution hasn't broken out yet. One of the players has been found by the Godsmen, the other is trying to get away from the Mercykillers, who have learned that she used to be an assassin. I'll look up the adventure and see if I can fit it in.

Sebastrd
2013-08-06, 04:18 PM
So yeah...anywhere this particular conversation can go now?

Sure. I still have two pages of this thread to read through, but I'm pressed for time at the moment so I'll throw this out there.

Good and Evil are not objective absolutes, they are subjective. Morality is not the same for everyone. While Sarin is LG, his definition of good is likely very different from your modern, liberal cultured definition.

For example, there are cultures in which polygamy is acceptable and encouraged. They view it as "good", while it is unlawful and disdainful here. Likewise, female circumcision is performed regularly in some places. While we view it as barbaric (and rightfully so), they believe just the opposite - that within their culture it would be barbaric not to do it, because it could "ruin" a young woman's life to go uncircumcised.

It's very possible that Sarin, in a pseudo-religious sense, believes that chaotics-by-choice are simply savages that need to be coverted and "civilized" and that chaotics-by-nature are a disease that needs to be eradicated before they infect the whole planarverse. None of that precludes him being "good", it simply implies that he defines "good" differently from you. Plenty of Europeans who flocked to the Holy Land during the Crusades sincerely believed they were obligated to do so based on their beliefs. I sort of equate the Harmonium types with the Inquisition - commiting horrible atrocities in the name of the "greater good". There were some that enjoyed their work too much (LE), some that were more merciful and had more benevolent motivations (LG), and plenty in between (LN). They were bound by a single ideal, even if their alignments differed.

Eldan
2013-08-06, 04:50 PM
That's true in the real world. It isn't in D&D. We have a heaven. We can go visit it. Goodness is a cosmic force we can measure with spells and that makes people sick if they visit the wrong plane. The standards by which paladins fall are laid out and do not depend at all on whether hte Paladin thought torturing orphan kittens in the name of Orcus was really a good idea.

Yora
2013-08-06, 04:59 PM
It often seems to me that Planescape treats Good and Evil as physical states of outer planes matter and energy, that doesn't really have anything to do with kindness, mercery, cruelty, hatred, and so on. It determines how certain magical effects interact with a creature based on its association with certain specifc outer planes. The impact on a creatures views and behavior seems to be marginal.

Ashdate
2013-08-06, 05:05 PM
Good and Evil are not objective absolutes, they are subjective. Morality is not the same for everyone. While Sarin is LG, his definition of good is likely very different from your modern, liberal cultured definition.

I think you need to tread carefully here, as in Planescape, alignment is something that is not just a thing you write on your character sheet at ignore; it's as much a stat on your character sheet as a strength score. It's also something that people can literally find out. Saying "I'm lawful good" in the Planescape setting absolutely does mean something in particular about your character, whereas in a traditional setting saying it might get people looking at you funny. Indeed, the outer planes and the exemplars of alignment (such as Pit Fiends and Archons) absolutely mean something very specific. If alignment was truly relative, then you couldn't ever 'measure' it like the setting allows. There needs to be some boundaries, even if they have to be a bit fuzzy.

I think the trick is that you need to toss away the baggage that the words "good" and "evil" often come with. Here's how I interpret alignment in my Planescape game. You (that's a royal "you", as in, "you, the person reading this") might disagree, but here's where I come at it from for my 4e Planescape game:

In the traditional D&D setting, "good" is often synonymous with "right", and "evil" is often synonymous with "wrong". Which is fine! But in Planescape, I think its better to couch them in terms more closely associated with "group" and "self". A lawful evil character is someone who primarily wants to use things such as laws and "order" in order to benefit themselves, while a chaotic evil character might do what they want for their own desires and purposes. Meanwhile, a lawful good character is trying to think of the greater good, and wishes to use laws in order to benefit everywhere, whereas a chaotic good character might have a more libertarian streak, and believe that the best thing for everyone is if they had the freedom to make their own choices.

Such alignments say little to nothing about what's "right" or "wrong". Indeed, a lawful evil character would be just as capable of performing "just/nice/right" actions, even though their motivation may be for their own good. A lawful "good" character like Factol Sarin* could absolutely perform what might be considered a "bad/wrong" act if they believe it is for the greater benefit of the world (think: Alan Moore's "The Watchmen" ending). Meanwhile, a chaotic good character like Factol Darkwood might be willing to fake-marry a naive tiefling and set the entire city of Sigil into chaos in order to achieve a goal that he believes is for the greater good (i.e. him ruling Sigil).

*The traditional Paladin code is, of course, its own issue.

Eldan
2013-08-06, 05:06 PM
I don't know. I'd say on average, celestials are still nicer than fiends.

It does sometimes take that view with Law and Chaos though, it seems. They took the issue of "these are really hard to explain and view s differ" that plagues the rules and made it into "most mortals don't understand anything beyond the basics anyway".

NichG
2013-08-06, 05:29 PM
That's true in the real world. It isn't in D&D. We have a heaven. We can go visit it. Goodness is a cosmic force we can measure with spells and that makes people sick if they visit the wrong plane. The standards by which paladins fall are laid out and do not depend at all on whether hte Paladin thought torturing orphan kittens in the name of Orcus was really a good idea.

In Planescape at least, these cosmic forces are informed by the beliefs of mortals on the Prime. It does mean that you can't just go 'I have my own definition of being Good, and its killing innocents' (unless you're a really powerful Signer I guess), but it also means that over time the actual parameters of what 'Good' means can, at least in principle, shift if enough Prime planes change their beliefs. Whether this is direct, or mediated by the rise and fall of deities is unclear. I kind of like the idea that deities are hierarchical sorting algorithms for the universe, allowed to vary somewhat from the universal average definition of the alignment in order to account for fluctuations between Prime planes.

So basically Wee Jas exists because her Prime worlds don't believe that necromancy is strictly evil, so necromancers from those primes can end up in neutral afterlives via her postmortem intervention, whereas necromancers from other primes will end up evil.

Eldan
2013-08-06, 05:33 PM
I kind of like the idea that deities are hierarchical sorting algorithms for the universe, allowed to vary somewhat from the universal average definition of the alignment in order to account for fluctuations between Prime planes.

That was one of the nerdiest sentences I've ever read. Love it.

Psyren
2013-08-07, 09:34 AM
Prophecy, Shompecy. Most games in Eberron don't even need it

The fact that it doesn't need to be referenced in every campaign is irrelevant. It's there as a justification for any power plays by the greater factions, and more importantly is a reason for them to be unconcerned with the actions of the PCs.

It goes right back to the immersion-destroying question of why Elminster, Drizz't etc. need level 1 PCs to do their bidding, or more importantly how you can screw with Manshoon/Szass's plans without them showing up and OHKOing the party before any of the good guys can react. Bluntly, they need something else to occupy their time and a setting-level mystery is the perfect excuse. Or if you'd rather I reference Eberron, it explains why the epic dragons and giants aren't melting the PCs the instant they become a nuisance.



Ravenloft is not about the Mists and never will be. The Mists are a plot contrivance and a horror from beyond that chooses to keep the place as it is. Your place in Ravenloft is to try to survive the horrors that call it home, and to explore the strange Lords while not turning into one yourself.

Of course they're a plot contrivance, that's the whole point. Why are we stuck here? Mists. How did that one player's Warforged join the party? Mists. What's Strahd so busy with that he won't go after us after we took down his henchmen? Mists.



Dark Sun? Dark Sun is a reference to a different fantasy genre. it's destroyed through the abuse of Magic (kinda fitting for D&D) and the consequence is a arid harsh postapocalyptic setting where life is cheap, the villians are horribly powerful, and you get to try to survive... or go nuts and lead a revolution. Either way, whatever you do resources will be scarce and survival will be the first thing on your mind.

Agreed, survival is the initial priority for all the PCs. But the state of the environment lends itself to all kinds of motivations. Maybe the Druid PC wants to, if not restore the plane to vitality, at least create a lush oasis somewhere, one more spot of hope in the barren wasteland. Maybe the psion wants to spread his teachings so more people can survive without harming the world. Maybe the Barbarian wants to found a desert gang and free his people from slavery somewhere. And maybe, just maybe, their goals all coincide one day and they decide to take one of the wizard-kings down (or die trying.) It gives you all kinds of lofty goals to aspire to.

In Planescape, why bother with any of that? "Adventurer" just feels like another 9 to 5 occupation in a planar city. You can already get anything you could ever want within the city walls, why leave? If anyone shakes up the status quo too much, the Lady will take care of it, so why bother? etc. That's just how it feels.

I couldn't say for certain whether the Blood War debuted in Planescape, but it's a feature of almost every setting now so you don't need to go there to get it.

Eldan
2013-08-07, 10:11 AM
Of course they're a plot contrivance, that's the whole point. Why are we stuck here? Mists. How did that one player's Warforged join the party? Mists. What's Strahd so busy with that he won't go after us after we took down his henchmen? Mists.

The mists are not what the adventure is about, though. They are whta makes the adventure possible, that's a difference. You aren't going to investigate the mists during your adventure and find out what caused them and how to remove them as your campaign goal.



In Planescape, why bother with any of that? "Adventurer" just feels like another 9 to 5 occupation in a planar city. You can already get anything you could ever want within the city walls, why leave? If anyone shakes up the status quo too much, the Lady will take care of it, so why bother? etc. That's just how it feels.

I couldn't say for certain whether the Blood War debuted in Planescape, but it's a feature of almost every setting now so you don't need to go there to get it.

First:
In Sigil, not everyone gets everything they want. Sure, what you want may be available on the Bazaar. That doesn't mean you have the necessary connection or money to get it. You want X. You cant afford X. That's a motivation.

Second, Sigil is about politics. Sure, you can not shake the status quo by marching in an army and killing all your enemies. But look about the better Planescape adventures. It's about undermining the other factions subtly, with politics or faith. Weaken their faith, strengthen your own. There's plenty of hooks there. The Lady only takes care of gigantic things that directly threaten the city. She doesn't personally kill every criminal.

Third, there's tons of reasons for leaving Sigil. Simply wanting to explore or getting sick of Sigil is one. Sigil has no fresh air, fresh water, plants, animals or daylight. That's five things to miss that you'd only get elsewhere. You may want to talk to your god. Find a fabled artefact. Find a person who went out into the planes.


In the end, most Planescape adventures will be about politics and faith, which are intimately connected. Faction X is gaining power and weakening Faction Y. Stop them or help them, depending on your affiliation and personal preference. That happens in a lot of political campaigns, but the nature of the power is different in Planescape.

Ashdate
2013-08-07, 11:04 AM
In Planescape, why bother with any of that? "Adventurer" just feels like another 9 to 5 occupation in a planar city. You can already get anything you could ever want within the city walls, why leave? If anyone shakes up the status quo too much, the Lady will take care of it, so why bother? etc. That's just how it feels.

I feel you're underselling the setting here. By that logic, why does any adventurer do anything when there are perfectly good towns to settle down in without the fear of dying? The truth is that your group of plucky adventurers have shown up in Sigil and are working together - not unlike the Mists - because presumably it's game night and you showed up to play. Would you truly have trouble finding motivation for your character in a setting as rich as Planescape, where pretty much anything could potentially work?

Certainly, the Planescape setting is complex, but that complexity allows it to play into short one-offs, or larger "save the multiverse" campaigns. Rather than the shadowy group of high-powered wizards asking level 2 PCs for assistance, you've got legitimately powerful and legitimately 'have their hands full' factols/fiends/etc. who have their hands in about twenty cookie jars; if they're asking you for help, it's probably because they truly do require help (of in the case of a fiend, might have an ulterior motive).

But I mean certainly, if you want to enter the setting with a "why bother?" attitude, there is a faction for that.

Sebastrd
2013-08-07, 12:35 PM
That's true in the real world. It isn't in D&D.

I disagree - especially in Planescape - and I'll just leave it at that.

Sebastrd
2013-08-07, 12:39 PM
In the traditional D&D setting, "good" is often synonymous with "right", and "evil" is often synonymous with "wrong". Which is fine! But in Planescape, I think its better to couch them in terms more closely associated with "group" and "self". A lawful evil character is someone who primarily wants to use things such as laws and "order" in order to benefit themselves, while a chaotic evil character might do what they want for their own desires and purposes. Meanwhile, a lawful good character is trying to think of the greater good, and wishes to use laws in order to benefit everywhere, whereas a chaotic good character might have a more libertarian streak, and believe that the best thing for everyone is if they had the freedom to make their own choices.

Such alignments say little to nothing about what's "right" or "wrong". Indeed, a lawful evil character would be just as capable of performing "just/nice/right" actions, even though their motivation may be for their own good. A lawful "good" character like Factol Sarin* could absolutely perform what might be considered a "bad/wrong" act if they believe it is for the greater benefit of the world (think: Alan Moore's "The Watchmen" ending). Meanwhile, a chaotic good character like Factol Darkwood might be willing to fake-marry a naive tiefling and set the entire city of Sigil into chaos in order to achieve a goal that he believes is for the greater good (i.e. him ruling Sigil).

I basically agree. There's an article somewhere that maps alignment to basic human motivations - all of which are desirable in moderation, but dangerous at extremes. It changed the way I view alignment, and makes it much more interesting.

Sebastrd
2013-08-07, 12:45 PM
But I mean certainly, if you want to enter the setting with a "why bother?" attitude, there is a faction for that.

lol

I'd sig that, but it's probably not that funny out of context.

Psyren
2013-08-07, 03:23 PM
The mists are not what the adventure is about, though. They are whta makes the adventure possible, that's a difference. You aren't going to investigate the mists during your adventure and find out what caused them and how to remove them as your campaign goal.

No, but that could be a character goal, particularly for a character that simply wants to go home.




Second, Sigil is about politics. Sure, you can not shake the status quo by marching in an army and killing all your enemies. But look about the better Planescape adventures. It's about undermining the other factions subtly, with politics or faith. Weaken their faith, strengthen your own. There's plenty of hooks there. The Lady only takes care of gigantic things that directly threaten the city. She doesn't personally kill every criminal.

She doesn't have to kill every criminal - she merely takes out anyone who consolidates too much power. What Szass did going from 3e -> 4e FR wouldn't come close to flying in Sigil, he'd be blasted to powder for even thinking about it. And anything similar the PCs might aspire to would be similarly smacked down.

I do understand it's more of a political intrigue setting... but I think Eberron offers plenty of that too, for those who want it, while also having plenty of the hack-and-slash high fantasy that FR fans liked, with no overgod (or over-whatever) figure to stifle those aspirations. So I can see one reason WotC may have made the decision to let this setting lapse.


I feel you're underselling the setting here. By that logic, why does any adventurer do anything when there are perfectly good towns to settle down in without the fear of dying? The truth is that your group of plucky adventurers have shown up in Sigil and are working together - not unlike the Mists - because presumably it's game night and you showed up to play. Would you truly have trouble finding motivation for your character in a setting as rich as Planescape, where pretty much anything could potentially work?

Anything... so long as the Lady allows it. Which is my problem with her and figures like her. "She wouldn't!" you might say, but she certainly could, and nobody could stop her.

Eldan
2013-08-07, 03:32 PM
There's probably more opportunities to become cosmically powerful in Planescape than anywhere else. So, I don't really see the problem here.

My favourite analogy: the Lady is like the sun. Explains a few facts about the setting ("Why don't we freeze to death? Where does the light come from during the day if there's no lamps everywhere?" vs. "Why are there mortals in Sigil? Why isn't it a Blood war battlefield? Why don't the gods run the show here, if it's strategically so important?"), but you'll probably never fight it and most campaigns will never even mention it. How often do your players complain that they can't fight the sun?

The thing about Planescape is that it's about combining things which you wouldn't expect to be combined. There's political discourse, but your debate can directly change the laws of physics, just by the words spoken. You do politics or heists in Sigil, but there's plenty of high fantasy adventure too, just leave the city. There's planes full of it.

Sigil shouldn't be the focus of every campaign and it isn't what the setting is about. Sigil is the staging ground. The entire city is the tavern your group meets up in. Or maybe the village you buy your supplies from before the expedtion. From time to time, you have an adventure there, sure. But there comes the time where you just want to go explore and discover what lies outside the walls.

Ashdate
2013-08-07, 04:22 PM
Anything... so long as the Lady allows it. Which is my problem with her and figures like her. "She wouldn't!" you might say, but she certainly could, and nobody could stop her.

Eldan's analogy of the Lady of Pain being like the sun is apt; she's not some ever-present cosmic force which dictates what you can/cannot do in the setting. She's window dressing. Her list of "rules" is pretty small:

1) Don't worship the Lady of Pain
2) Don't try to harm Sigil
3) Don't mess with the portals in Sigil

And newly added after the faction war:

4) No factions are allowed in Sigil.

PCs will generally "interact" with her only by seeing her from afar (and would be wise to look away and mind their own business). The Lady's motivations are not clear, but she clearly has little interest in running the city, merely in keeping it running. Suggesting that just because she has the power to do pretty darn near whatever she wants does not mean that she would... any more than any power in a D&D setting could decide to show up and start 'rearranging the furniture'.

If you want to believe that every day could be your last, with the Lady of Pain ready to burst from the ground, flay you and your children alive, and then piss on the burned ashes of your home and livelihood, I guess go ahead.

There's a faction for that too.

Eldan
2013-08-07, 05:13 PM
Ah, Pentar. So delightfully mad.

NichG
2013-08-07, 06:49 PM
In Planescape, why bother with any of that? "Adventurer" just feels like another 9 to 5 occupation in a planar city. You can already get anything you could ever want within the city walls, why leave? If anyone shakes up the status quo too much, the Lady will take care of it, so why bother? etc. That's just how it feels.

I couldn't say for certain whether the Blood War debuted in Planescape, but it's a feature of almost every setting now so you don't need to go there to get it.

I kind of feel that the best motivations in a Planescape campaign are personal story, not meta-plot. I think there's an important question to ask of every NPC in Planescape, which is: Why have they not just retired to Elysium and lived in an eternal, planar-energy-induced high?

Sure, some of the beggars probably can't afford to pay for the portal key to go there, and maybe the evil guys get kicked out by Guardinals, but it does mean that at some level most people in Sigil have a reason to be there rather than just exulting in perfection. So the adventurers need to have this too:

- For some people, they want to reshape the infinite planes in their image of how the world should be. Its not enough for them to have what they want personally, they have to make a lasting mark upon the infinite. This is ridiculously grandiose, and kind of awesome for it. A king rules a nation, leaves a dynasty, but a country is just a piece of dust upon the prime. A factioneer in Sigil changes the Way Things Are on a multiversal scale, just by believing in something. Maybe just a tiny little bit, but its still a heady brew. Those who rise in the factions are those who find a way to make their vote count for more.

- For some people, it could be that Sigil is just the doorway to their own personal quest. A loved one has sold their soul to a demon and they want to get it back, or they seek to talk with their ancestors in the lands of the dead, recover memories lost to the Styx, or they're trying to recover their goodly nature, stolen from them by a Simpathetic. Or maybe they want to steal the peaches of immortality or get back the divine right of rule that has been stripped from their Prime emperor or plead directly to their deity for intervention on behalf of their home.

These are particularly neat in Planescape, because in Planescape its far more believable to have a character who has a personal relationship to some cosmic force without it stealing the spotlight; yes, Death and I have a deal that he won't collect me for something as trivial as age or disease so long as I send others to him on a regular basis, but if I don't find the missing Hourglass within a year then our deal ends. Yes, I'm on a mission from the Celestial Hebdomad. Or from Prince Talisid (I had a player who played a Musteval once...).

- For some people, just the exploration is enough. The universe is a big, crazy place with lots of stuff to see. Why stay in Sigil when there are lightning storms the size of worlds that you can ride sail through on a board made of inductive coils and the hide of the great Elsewhales on the Plane of Air, or you can go double-mountain climbing in Bytopia, or learn to sculpt the stuff of Limbo from the anarchs of the Githzerai and create great works of art.

- And related to the last, some people want to discover cosmic truths. If believe shapes reality, is there any reality in the absence of belief? What is the true nature of Good or Evil or whatever philosophical concept is most important to them? What lies behind the story of the Baernoloths?

BWR
2013-08-08, 02:08 AM
The best reason to go on adventures in Planescape is simply to see and experience the wonders of the Multiverse. In a way, that supports the Sensate ideology.
Sure, Elysium is a wonderful place but sometimes you want to see new sights, hear new sounds, smell new smells, think new thoughts, get new scars.

Psyren
2013-08-08, 12:40 PM
How often do your players complain that they can't fight the sun?

But how often will the sun destroy you if you try to take over the world, or start factions in the city again? Heck, how often will the sun destroy you if you try to worship it? This analogy doesn't hold. Ao is a better analogy for the sun (he simply doesn't care, and you're even free to worship him if you want, there's just no reason to). And Ao doesn't care if you start upsetting the balance and slaying deities left and right, so long as when you take over their portfolios, you actually do their jobs.



- For some people, they want to reshape the infinite planes in their image of how the world should be. Its not enough for them to have what they want personally, they have to make a lasting mark upon the infinite. This is ridiculously grandiose, and kind of awesome for it. A king rules a nation, leaves a dynasty, but a country is just a piece of dust upon the prime. A factioneer in Sigil changes the Way Things Are on a multiversal scale, just by believing in something. Maybe just a tiny little bit, but its still a heady brew. Those who rise in the factions are those who find a way to make their vote count for more.

But isn't the reverse true then? If sufficient belief can change the Way Things Are, how can I truly make my mark anywhere? Someone else can come along (or several someones), believe differently, and undo all my hard work. Which brings me right back to "why bother?"

There is flux in other settings too, but there are also truths that cannot be denied or changed. In FR for example, no amount of believe will end or subvert the Weave, or the Wall, nor will it allow deities to ignore their worshipers etc.



- For some people, it could be that Sigil is just the doorway to their own personal quest. A loved one has sold their soul to a demon and they want to get it back, or they seek to talk with their ancestors in the lands of the dead, recover memories lost to the Styx, or they're trying to recover their goodly nature, stolen from them by a Simpathetic. Or maybe they want to steal the peaches of immortality or get back the divine right of rule that has been stripped from their Prime emperor or plead directly to their deity for intervention on behalf of their home.

I do like these hooks, but establishing a business relationship with Death, meeting with a deity directly or recovering a loved one's soul from a lower plane sound like things designed for epic or near-epic campaigns. Moreover, they sound more like motivations that someone would stumble across or resort to, than set out to achieve from the outset. Who becomes a wizard's apprentice or thief with the eventual goal of partnering with Death? It sounds more like something you would do out of desperation to keep from dying yourself, or something. I don't know, it just seems clunky.



- For some people, just the exploration is enough. The universe is a big, crazy place with lots of stuff to see. Why stay in Sigil when there are lightning storms the size of worlds that you can ride sail through on a board made of inductive coils and the hide of the great Elsewhales on the Plane of Air, or you can go double-mountain climbing in Bytopia, or learn to sculpt the stuff of Limbo from the anarchs of the Githzerai and create great works of art.

These sound like really dangerous places, and therefore are high-level/endgame motivations yet again. The nice thing about Eberron's Prophecy or Ravenloft's Mists or even the clashes between clergies in Faerun is that players of all levels can get involved in or even stumble upon pieces of the mystery, and they may not even attract fatal amounts of attention for doing so.

Eldan
2013-08-08, 01:49 PM
The difference is this. Before Planescape, all those things were considered epic or near epic. You didn't even go to the planes before the teens, after all, there are demons there. Planescape's goal was to make such grand goals possible from level 1. Deities may not want to talk to you, since they are busy, but you can walk up to their palace and try.

Same for the Elsewhales, or Lightning, or any of those things. They don't automatically kill you. You can try them. Or strive to do them one day.

Ashdate
2013-08-08, 02:01 PM
But how often will the sun destroy you if you try to take over the world, or start factions in the city again? Heck, how often will the sun destroy you if you try to worship it? This analogy doesn't hold. Ao is a better analogy for the sun (he simply doesn't care, and you're even free to worship him if you want, there's just no reason to). And Ao doesn't care if you start upsetting the balance and slaying deities left and right, so long as when you take over their portfolios, you actually do their jobs.

How often do your PCs try and take over the world?

I mean, I sort of get where you're coming from, but it feels an awful lot like "there's this tiny list of things I'm not allowed to do, and that really bothers me". The Lady of Pain won't stop you from becoming a power, or conquering the rest of the multiverse, she just cares about her little piece of property. Just don't become a power in her city, and don't try and take it over either. Is that really stopping your fun as a PC?

And her caring about that little piece of property is essential for the setting. If there was no being as powerful as the Lady of Pain to look over a city like Sigil, then what exactly would stop the Blood War from erupting in the streets, nevermind every god and power in the setting looking to take control of what is often considered "the most valuable piece of real estate in the multiverse"?

But again, the list of restrictions about Sigil is a drop in a very large bucket that is Planescape. Nearly every setting requires you to "buy in" to some portion of it (i.e. limited resources in Dark Sun, giant skull-shaped ships that run around in space in Planejammer); why must this one tiny aspect of the setting be such a deal breaker? If you don't like the setting, that's fine, but if I'm the DM and you bring a character to my Planescape game, then I'm running under the assumption that you've bought into things like a god-like silent floating flaying lady who protects this city you're in.

I also think you fundamentally misunderstand the setting as well; it is not meant to be a setting where if you're under level 10, you can't have fun. In fact, most of the printed material was meant for low-level 2e play (levels 1 to 5). The point is absolutely that the PCs are small fish in a big pond, but they're expected to be crafty, resourceful, and learn when to talk and when to shut their mouths.

The big big stuff is there of course, but you challenge it when your character is ready to risk challenging it. Like in every other setting created.

Psyren
2013-08-08, 04:26 PM
The difference is this. Before Planescape, all those things were considered epic or near epic. You didn't even go to the planes before the teens, after all, there are demons there. Planescape's goal was to make such grand goals possible from level 1. Deities may not want to talk to you, since they are busy, but you can walk up to their palace and try.

Same for the Elsewhales, or Lightning, or any of those things. They don't automatically kill you. You can try them. Or strive to do them one day.

Well, I'm a big fan of options, so I can see where a setting that makes that possible has value. But I can also see where it might feel weird/unrealistinc/off-putting at the same time.

I guess what I'm saying is - I'm glad Planescape exists and that people enjoy it, but I can also see why its popularity has stayed pretty niche even with such a popular CRPG set in its 'verse.

NichG
2013-08-08, 09:06 PM
But isn't the reverse true then? If sufficient belief can change the Way Things Are, how can I truly make my mark anywhere? Someone else can come along (or several someones), believe differently, and undo all my hard work. Which brings me right back to "why bother?"


How is that different than any other endeavor though? Someone could true-resurrect that villain you kill. Everyone whose lives you saved when you 'save the world' can still die later, and via accidents or old age, they pretty much all will. Even if you create some new organization or kingdom, someone else could conquer it years after your death. If someone else pushes a different way using the nature of belief, its no different - either you're around to fight for it (or your followers are) and you have a fair shake of defending what you've made, or you aren't around anymore and therefore can't.
[/quote]



There is flux in other settings too, but there are also truths that cannot be denied or changed. In FR for example, no amount of believe will end or subvert the Weave, or the Wall, nor will it allow deities to ignore their worshipers etc.


Thats not really true though. I mean, belief won't do it, but the Weave has been subverted lots of times in FR. It seems like there's always a new Mystra because someone pulls a Karsus, or Ao gets tetchy and throws down his pantheon, or there's a spellplague, or whatever.

And if it were absolute, how does this make things better for PC motivations, since its not like you can make your mark by changing those - if, as you say, they can't be denied or changed. Or are you saying that for any ambitious character to be meaningful, they have to be the exception that manages to change the unchangeable?



I do like these hooks, but establishing a business relationship with Death, meeting with a deity directly or recovering a loved one's soul from a lower plane sound like things designed for epic or near-epic campaigns. Moreover, they sound more like motivations that someone would stumble across or resort to, than set out to achieve from the outset. Who becomes a wizard's apprentice or thief with the eventual goal of partnering with Death? It sounds more like something you would do out of desperation to keep from dying yourself, or something. I don't know, it just seems clunky.


You can bring any of these things into play with a new character in Planescape though. They're not reserved for epic or near epic characters at all - if you can meet a Balor when going about your newspaper route in Sigil, its already established that personal power is not required to participate in the goings-on.

What I would say is that Planescape has a large gap between characters having the ability to deal with something successfully and having the ability to deal with something successfully 'on their terms'. If you're in Sigil, that Balor won't just kill you because it can. So that means you can negotiate with it, figure out what it wants, manipulate it, trick it, etc, without ever having the ability to survive if it did decide to kill you. Outside of Planescape, it'd pretty much be immediately hostile, so you'd better not let it see you unless you can beat it in a straight out fight.

If you try to play a strict pacifist (no violent conflict, period) in a standard D&D campaign its likely to be nearly impossible. But in Planescape, it'd be far more viable since escalation to violent conflict is often not in the party's best interest.



These sound like really dangerous places, and therefore are high-level/endgame motivations yet again. The nice thing about Eberron's Prophecy or Ravenloft's Mists or even the clashes between clergies in Faerun is that players of all levels can get involved in or even stumble upon pieces of the mystery, and they may not even attract fatal amounts of attention for doing so.

Well again, see above. If you're trying to deal with these places 'on your terms' then they're going to be very dangerous at low levels. If you're dealing with the places 'on their terms', understanding the ins and outs of what you have to do, then you can survive there just fine.

Think of it like space travel. A high level D&D character could say 'I levitate up into space, and since I don't need to breathe and am immunized to vacuum, I can fly the rest of the way to Mars and hang out'. But, low level characters with the cleverness (and infrastructure) to do so could build an airtight container, launch it into space on a giant rocket, etc, etc. If they mess up at all, they're dead, but its possible. The real-life requirements of doing it right are pretty much beyond the scope of most tabletop games, but in Planescape its not as technical or convoluted, just a matter of researching the plane, getting help from a local, etc.

So you could have a Lv1 guy safely surfing the lightning storms while some Lv15 wizard is trying to force his way through and having the lightnings splash off his spells and resist him every step of the way.

Rosstin
2013-08-08, 09:59 PM
People buy games (and settings) as they are, though. No matter how much the online gaming crowd says "you can just refluff it," the vast majority of the actual gaming public buys games as they are, not as a framework of rules with skins that can be swapped out. Unless that's built into the game (a la Gurps or Hero System), it's not how people think of games. The objections to Planescape are a good example of this.

So true. Even given my penchant for coming up with original worlds, I've often wished I had modules I could just pick up and drop into games.

It'll never happen, granted. Ran a one-shot this year (it was required for class! Thanks Professor Schell) and I discovered I'm slightly more efficient than I used to be. Still took forever to come up with 3 hours gaming material, but it was fun.


As I said, with 3rd ed, WotC made the decision to target their books at players rather than GMs.

Fluff is great for GMs. Players have little use for it, but are more than happy to pay $$$ for access to some feats to make them a bit more powerful.

Also true!! I had a GM last year who didn't allow you to use stuff for your character unless you owned the book it was in! He was practically a salesman for Wizards. His game was pretty fun, though, so I can't fault him too much.

Regarding the immutability of a setting such as Planescape, I think it requires a different sort of mindset than we sometimes have when we play DnD. Many players (myself included) have pretty crazy goals when we start characters, like "unify arcane and divine magic" or "lead Orcish society into new age of prosperity." If your goal in life is "destroy Sigil" or "kill the Lady of Pain", of course you're going to run into problems. You have to have more realistic goals, carving out your own beautiful niche in the world.

I think it's a good exercise as players to be put in situations where you don't have power, to be at the whim of other beings, to have to negotiate. Not all the time, but occasionally.

NichG
2013-08-08, 11:02 PM
Regarding the immutability of a setting such as Planescape, I think it requires a different sort of mindset than we sometimes have when we play DnD. Many players (myself included) have pretty crazy goals when we start characters, like "unify arcane and divine magic" or "lead Orcish society into new age of prosperity." If your goal in life is "destroy Sigil" or "kill the Lady of Pain", of course you're going to run into problems. You have to have more realistic goals, carving out your own beautiful niche in the world.

I think it's a good exercise as players to be put in situations where you don't have power, to be at the whim of other beings, to have to negotiate. Not all the time, but occasionally.

I'd actually say that for the most part crazy goals are significantly easier in Planescape than they would be in other settings. I think its just that people fixate on the LoP because she's an NPC and not just 'an effect', combined with her being inscrutable enough that its hard to figure out how to negotiate. Especially if people have had bad experiences with DMPCs and the like they may be hypersensitive to these aspects and assume that because the LoP exists in the setting, she will be used by the DM to suppress PC plans that probably should be outside of her intended purview.

You don't see nearly the same complaints about the Spire, for example, even though it has some similar properties (gods can't go near it, unbeatable magic negation abilities, even poisons and natural things break down near it).

Rosstin
2013-08-08, 11:40 PM
Yeah, I know next to nothing about Planescape and I've heard all kinds of nonsense about people trying to kill her. Think you have a point.

Note to self that if I want to create immutable absolutes, I won't personify them.

Psyren
2013-08-09, 09:55 AM
How is that different than any other endeavor though? Someone could true-resurrect that villain you kill.

There's a hard time limit on that, beyond which it becomes impossible, so no. There's also Unname, Barghests, SoA and similar effects. Thus, permanency.


Thats not really true though. I mean, belief won't do it, but the Weave has been subverted lots of times in FR. It seems like there's always a new Mystra because someone pulls a Karsus, or Ao gets tetchy and throws down his pantheon, or there's a spellplague, or whatever.

Those kinds of things happen between editions though (basically to justify uprooting the magic system), not during one. If I set a campaign in 3.x FR, nothing will really happen to the Weave. I can count on certain truths being present and immutable depending on the time period of the setting.



And if it were absolute, how does this make things better for PC motivations, since its not like you can make your mark by changing those - if, as you say, they can't be denied or changed. Or are you saying that for any ambitious character to be meaningful, they have to be the exception that manages to change the unchangeable?

What I'm saying is that, for change to meaningful, there has to be other things that don't change. Say I want to be the most powerful wizard in the world, obviously if everyone else is able to grow in power as fast as I can then nothing will come of my efforts. Or worse, I achieve my goal, then enough people believe otherwise and my work is for naught. If the entire setting is in flux - save anything regarding the Lady apparently, and none of your goals had better concern her - then all my efforts can be easily removed.


You can bring any of these things into play with a new character in Planescape though. They're not reserved for epic or near epic characters at all - if you can meet a Balor when going about your newspaper route in Sigil, its already established that personal power is not required to participate in the goings-on.

What I would say is that Planescape has a large gap between characters having the ability to deal with something successfully and having the ability to deal with something successfully 'on their terms'. If you're in Sigil, that Balor won't just kill you because it can. So that means you can negotiate with it, figure out what it wants, manipulate it, trick it, etc, without ever having the ability to survive if it did decide to kill you. Outside of Planescape, it'd pretty much be immediately hostile, so you'd better not let it see you unless you can beat it in a straight out fight.

But if I meet a Balor at level 1 and he can't touch me (due to whatever laws etc. are governing Sigil,) then have I truly met a Balor? A being literally composed of chaos and evil, fettered because of the nature of the setting?

It seems to me that I've met something that looks an awful lot like a Balor, and may even have the same powers, but isn't really. It takes me out of my SoD a bit.



If you try to play a strict pacifist (no violent conflict, period) in a standard D&D campaign its likely to be nearly impossible. But in Planescape, it'd be far more viable since escalation to violent conflict is often not in the party's best interest.

I'm glad there is a niche for such campaigns. Whether such an intrigue/diplomacy-focused approach works for D&D is what I'm hesitant to sign off on.



Well again, see above. If you're trying to deal with these places 'on your terms' then they're going to be very dangerous at low levels. If you're dealing with the places 'on their terms', understanding the ins and outs of what you have to do, then you can survive there just fine.

Something impersonal and ineffable like the Mists or the Prophecy or the Weave can reasonably mean different things to different characters at all levels, though. But in a setting focused on the planes, Hell is hell is hell, and making its denizens be forced to act "not-Hell" just so the city concept can actually work takes me right out of the immersion. Ditto for angels, undead etc.

I understand that very unique stories can be told here as a result of that. I get it. And maybe if WotC or someone markets it better in the future it will be more appealing.

Eldan
2013-08-09, 10:12 AM
You're getting this wrong.


But if I meet a Balor at level 1 and he can't touch me (due to whatever laws etc. are governing Sigil,) then have I truly met a Balor? A being literally composed of chaos and evil, fettered because of the nature of the setting?

The Balor, likely, doesn't give two coppers about Sigil's laws. He can probably slaughter his way through all of Sigil's law enforcement on his own. But it would probably just be a bit more advantageous to him to work with mortals, instead. Since mortals can give you their faith.

Ashdate
2013-08-09, 11:38 AM
But if I meet a Balor at level 1 and he can't touch me (due to whatever laws etc. are governing Sigil,) then have I truly met a Balor? A being literally composed of chaos and evil, fettered because of the nature of the setting?

I really think you should take some to learn more about the setting; a lot of your arguments seem to be based upon what you imagine the setting to be like, cobbled together from off-hand comments like the one about the Balor.

There is no law in Sigil that prevents a Balor from outright killing you, should he choose.

He's certainly more vulnerable in Sigil (as he cannot Gate in allies, and there would be certainly may be good-aligned creatures who would jump at the opportunity to "avenge" you). If the Balor decides not to paste you in the spot without cause, it's because he likely didn't come to Sigil to start randomly slaughtering people on a whim; that's likely to result in several factions, whatever celestial creatures (and devils) after him, plus potentially get mazed by the Lady.

But man, you mouth off to a Balor in Sigil? Yeah he might decide to paste you, and the chances are the investigation into "why you died" probably won't get very far or see the Balor punished. Lots of bloods die in the streets of Sigil because they got too cocky cutter.

So please, it's fine if you have some questions about the setting, but please stop making poor assumptions about how it functions. While post-faction war, Planewalker.com has several chapters about the setting that still more-or-less carry over from the 2e setting that you can read for free. It may not change your opinion of the setting, but it would at least give you better grounds to argue from.

NichG
2013-08-09, 12:32 PM
There's a hard time limit on that, beyond which it becomes impossible, so no. There's also Unname, Barghests, SoA and similar effects. Thus, permanency.

Those kinds of things happen between editions though (basically to justify uprooting the magic system), not during one. If I set a campaign in 3.x FR, nothing will really happen to the Weave. I can count on certain truths being present and immutable depending on the time period of the setting.


This kind of thing exists in Planescape too though. I mean, we know that the Weave could be unmade, because there are established times at which this has happened and the methods, such as Karsus' Avatar, could even be reproducible. But it doesn't happen in a campaign not because it can't, but because its out of scope for the campaign. There's also nothing stopping it from being in scope, but it pretty much requires the DM to be on board.

In Planescape, the PCs aren't going to end the Blood War just because they say 'I believe its over really strongly'. They're not going to destroy Sigil or cast down all the powers just by saying so either. Accomplishing any of those things is on the same scale as pursuing things in an FR campaign like 'my goal is to become the next Mystra' or 'my goal is to create the underground railroad for Faithless and sneak them out into the planes so that Kelemvor doesn't turn them into construction materials'. They require lots of work and cleverness to pull of, and are in most cases outside of the scope of the campaign and pretty much impossible without DM buy-in to the idea.



What I'm saying is that, for change to meaningful, there has to be other things that don't change. Say I want to be the most powerful wizard in the world, obviously if everyone else is able to grow in power as fast as I can then nothing will come of my efforts. Or worse, I achieve my goal, then enough people believe otherwise and my work is for naught. If the entire setting is in flux - save anything regarding the Lady apparently, and none of your goals had better concern her - then all my efforts can be easily removed.


I have to agree with Ashdate's post, it sounds like you've never actually played Planescape. Planescape as a setting is no more 'in flux' than any other setting. There's no 'pre-game belief roll' to see if your backstory got mutated or if your deeds were all erased from history. There's no table of 'it takes this many people to believe X into/out of existence', just the idea that things that are widely held to be true will develop their own truth with time.

But even if we say there's some critical mass of believers where they do actively and directly exert a reality revision on specific people, events, whatever... If you have the entire population of a prime world actively disbelieving your work out of existence, you've either done something really right or done something really wrong. This is not a normal state of affairs. I mean, it would require that they first hear about what you've done and then, unilaterally, decide that it cannot possibly be - not just being doubtful, but actively believing that what you did is actually a lie. And if you have a prime's worth of people who can actively just go and see what you've done, they're fighting against that belief too. So we're probably talking about multiple prime worlds specifically out to get you. I mean at that point they might as well just raise a god of 'smiting you specifically'.



But if I meet a Balor at level 1 and he can't touch me (due to whatever laws etc. are governing Sigil,) then have I truly met a Balor? A being literally composed of chaos and evil, fettered because of the nature of the setting?

It seems to me that I've met something that looks an awful lot like a Balor, and may even have the same powers, but isn't really. It takes me out of my SoD a bit.


If you meet a Balor in Sigil, odds are its probably involved in Blood War recruiting. Alternately, it may be using the fact that Powers (deities) can't enter Sigil to avoid the influence of some divine entity its either plotting against or who is out to get it. Or its looking for a portal to get somewhere its not supposed to be able to go, so it can wreak havoc there.

Its not that its 'fettered' by the setting, its that it has better things to do than attack you. If you provoke it, its easy for it to make an exception for you, because no one is going to actually do anything to it for killing one person. Even in other campaign settings, a Balor shouldn't be just a mindless force of destruction - they've got superhuman intelligence. Their chaotic nature means they don't really do hierarchies, or cooperate with each-other, but it doesn't mean that they're incapable of thinking past the next minute.



Something impersonal and ineffable like the Mists or the Prophecy or the Weave can reasonably mean different things to different characters at all levels, though. But in a setting focused on the planes, Hell is hell is hell, and making its denizens be forced to act "not-Hell" just so the city concept can actually work takes me right out of the immersion. Ditto for angels, undead etc.


Honestly I think Planescape is truer to the underlying mythology than D&D is. Mythic figures trick their way to success more often than they bust heads. Baator. for example, is based on Dante's Inferno, which wasn't really a story about devils attacking Dante as he fought his way through nine layers. Mythology doesn't really have the demon/devil separation that D&D does, which makes that a little tricky to speak to, but even if you look at e.g. Goetic demons, they were all about the kinds of things they could do for their summoner, how to placate them, what tricks to watch out for, etc. You do get a few 'engines of pure destruction' type demons in mythology, but they're not generally the majority.

So I'd say its far more in character for a traditional demon to talk with someone and try to manipulate or corrupt them or put them to a moral test or something than just to rip off their head for laughs.

BlckDv
2013-08-09, 01:01 PM
First to chime in on the concrete example of the Balor: The only Law in Sigil that mater is the Law of Consequences. The failure here is one of context... if you meet a Balor in Sigil, he obvisously was not gated/summoned/etc. he chose to come to Sigil. He has goals he wants to achieve, and doing them without access to Sigil would probably make them much harder. You don't know what they are, but be sure that if the Balor felt like he could write you in the dead book without crippling his desires, you'd be dead enough to make a Dustman jealous. But even CE cutters know that with The Lady, they can't just wait a generation or two and waltz back in like nothing ever happened, going berzerk is likely to put a crimp in their personal desires, which even CE cares about. Further a lot of the things people want in Sigil are subtle. picking up certain chant, learning who or what an ally or foe has been dealing with, finding out the dark of some portal or plot. The bull in the China shop has a hard time not being noticed, and that means that others are going to be more likely to tumble to what you are up to. Not killing you has very little to do with a desire to obey laws or be altruistic, tip the balance so killing you is less disruptive than letting you walk, and watch how fast your head rolls.

As to the anything you do can be undone... yeah, given time all things change, like Ozymandias teaches us. That is part of why so many Planescape plots are so involved. Folks who really want to make a mark and have their work matter don't need to just conquer a town or kill a villain, they need to work tirelessly so that when the town is conquered the people think the change is the right thing, that the new rules are what they want and that the plans that have played out have made things better and desirable. Planscape:Torment plays with that in a fun sequence where you fight to stop a town shifting from one plane to another. You fight for hearts and minds. Make them love you, make them fear you, make them admire you... these can all work, but you have to make sure it lasts, and unless you are immortal make sure it lasts without you as a central figure. Plots in Planescape are about the long game, some folks dig that, some don't. Just because something changes again doesn't mean your change didn't matter. Primus may be just fine now, but that doesn't mean Tenebrous's time in his seat gets forgotten or the rogue march stops having happened.

Psyren
2013-08-09, 01:08 PM
The Abyss - the infinite Abyss - recruiting? :smallconfused:


Lots of bloods die in the streets of Sigil because they got too cocky cutter.

*groan*

I get it, I get it, it's not for me.

Eldan
2013-08-09, 01:13 PM
All the planes are infinite. That doesn't mean they can ever stop recruiting. Because recruiting is their only power source, really. They can either recruit you alive, or they can recruit your soul.

Ashdate
2013-08-09, 02:51 PM
*groan*

I get it, I get it, it's not for me.

And that's okay! Clearly, given its mediocre sales, it wasn't for a lot of people either.

Asmodai
2013-08-09, 06:31 PM
It goes right back to the immersion-destroying question of why Elminster, Drizz't etc. need level 1 PCs to do their bidding, or more importantly how you can screw with Manshoon/Szass's plans without them showing up and OHKOing the party before any of the good guys can react. Bluntly, they need something else to occupy their time and a setting-level mystery is the perfect excuse. Or if you'd rather I reference Eberron, it explains why the epic dragons and giants aren't melting the PCs the instant they become a nuisance.

They don't. Do they matter for your campaign though? And can they be at every place at once? They cannot. Therefore it's easy to sort things out if you have to involve characters like that. I don't, on the basis that FR is just sick with all the characters you will trip over. Heck, at least Planescape doesn't have any characters like that.


Of course they're a plot contrivance, that's the whole point. Why are we stuck here? Mists. How did that one player's Warforged join the party? Mists. What's Strahd so busy with that he won't go after us after we took down his henchmen? Mists.

You are mixing up narrative convenience and narrative impetus. Narrative impetus is what drives the plot and the characters along their road. Narrative convenience is just an excuse to get things started. The impetus in the stories doesn't come from the Mists, as Mists are just a convenient set dressing rather then the actual source of plot.


Agreed, survival is the initial priority for all the PCs. But the state of the environment lends itself to all kinds of motivations. Maybe the Druid PC wants to, if not restore the plane to vitality, at least create a lush oasis somewhere, one more spot of hope in the barren wasteland. Maybe the psion wants to spread his teachings so more people can survive without harming the world. Maybe the Barbarian wants to found a desert gang and free his people from slavery somewhere. And maybe, just maybe, their goals all coincide one day and they decide to take one of the wizard-kings down (or die trying.) It gives you all kinds of lofty goals to aspire to.

So, how is the Impetus of Dark Sun a environmental warning tale? It's a story about harsh conditions and doing your damn best to make some kind of change.


In Planescape, why bother with any of that? "Adventurer" just feels like another 9 to 5 occupation in a planar city. You can already get anything you could ever want within the city walls, why leave? If anyone shakes up the status quo too much, the Lady will take care of it, so why bother? etc. That's just how it feels.

I couldn't say for certain whether the Blood War debuted in Planescape, but it's a feature of almost every setting now so you don't need to go there to get it.

You never have read Planescape proper, have you? First of all, most likely the characters of Planescape aren't "adventurers" - they aren't a gang of homicidal freaks out to loot monsters and sell their **** for an arbitrary goal of becoming the biggest, baddest mofos in the Universe. As a wonderfukl paradox they are folks that mostly want to just lead their lives, yet they live in a place where the extraordinary is ordinary, where the money is never enough to get you through and where everyone has an angle they want to use you for.

Better then that, Planescape is NOT Sigil. This is a fallacy that comes from the fact that Sigil has gotten a lot of exposure, especially thanks to Planescape Torment and the original Box set. Sigil is a convenient hub to explain how disparate strangers could meet each other and how you could facilitate travel and downtime between the events of the games. Sure, it's also a rich environment that has a cosmopolitan feel that can enable a hundred stories just by staying there, but Sigil is not the only part of Planescape.

The world of Planescape are what makes Planescape so awesome - the Factions have outposts in Sigil due to the traffic, but they operate all over, all the while being small fry on the cosmic scale. It's a world where you can easily mock gods, pass by angelic beggars, enjoy mythic cycles, mug dragons while they're in a drunken stupor, rob interplanar casinoes, serve as mercenaries in legendary conflicts, trade with impossible cities and stare in confusion when the Maiden they are supposed to save is actually in love with her demonic abductor and how he is the happiest when she is.

The Planes are loaded with colorful folks and even more colorful ideas, and all of these can be accessed - One day you'll be preventing the war of Marids and Sahuagin, the other you will be trading in Dis for a new pair of boots and the third you will be infiltrating the astral castles of the Githyanki. All the strange places. All the strange people. And all of them are accessible, allowing you to enjoy the full gamut of imagination that went into D&D through the years without being a slave to the plots and limitations of the campaign settings.

This also segues into your dissmisal of a Balor as something you can interact with. Planescape was about going beyond the obvious and the cliche. It was about treating characters as individuals rather then as a collection of stats that needs to be ground down. It's a setting that facilitated the story and the interaction over pummelling things into the ground.

Just because he's a Demon doesn't mean he has to act like a lunatic and live only for murder. Maybe he's in Sigil because he wanted to see his son, or find a vintage he would especially enjoy, maybe he likes to troll the Enemy by appearing in such a place getting people to wonder what he is up to, maybe he's on an actual mission for his overlords... or maybe he's just arrive to enjoy the angelic/devillish prostitutes he happens to enjoy.

All of this makes him a Character rather then a Balor, and that's what Planescape does best. Now give him something he needs, find out who doesn't want him to have it, and put the characters on the side of people helping him or stopping him and suddenly you have the makings of a Planescape tale.

navar100
2013-08-09, 07:21 PM
As to the anything you do can be undone... yeah, given time all things change, like Ozymandias teaches us. That is part of why so many Planescape plots are so involved. Folks who really want to make a mark and have their work matter don't need to just conquer a town or kill a villain, they need to work tirelessly so that when the town is conquered the people think the change is the right thing, that the new rules are what they want and that the plans that have played out have made things better and desirable. Planscape:Torment plays with that in a fun sequence where you fight to stop a town shifting from one plane to another. You fight for hearts and minds. Make them love you, make them fear you, make them admire you... these can all work, but you have to make sure it lasts, and unless you are immortal make sure it lasts without you as a central figure. Plots in Planescape are about the long game, some folks dig that, some don't. Just because something changes again doesn't mean your change didn't matter. Primus may be just fine now, but that doesn't mean Tenebrous's time in his seat gets forgotten or the rogue march stops having happened.

I played that! I didn't know it was a module. We were successful in keeping the town in Arcadia instead of going to Mechanus. My character had a bias since he worshipped Osiris who with the rest of the Egyptian Pantheon dwells in Arcadia.

Ashdate
2013-08-09, 07:24 PM
I played that! I didn't know it was a module. We were successful in keeping the town in Arcadia instead of going to Mechanus. My character had a bias since he worshipped Osiris who with the rest of the Egyptian Pantheon dwells in Arcadia.

That's not a module to my knowledge, although it's possible that your DM was basing his game off of the Planescape: Torment sequence.

In Torment, you're attempting to stop Curst, the gate-town to Carceri, from being absorbed into the plane.

(actually technically the game has you enter Carceri to pull the gate-town back but that's just a technical detail.)

NichG
2013-08-09, 09:23 PM
The Abyss - the infinite Abyss - recruiting? :smallconfused:


Its a Balor. His personal army isn't going to be infinite. Maybe he wants to rise to take over a new layer, or take out a rival, or defend a particular spot. The reason the Infinite Abyss doesn't just win is that as a whole its disorganized and doesn't effectively leverage its numbers. Mixing in mortals who aren't as bound by extreme alignment (and who the demons get to watch suffer and die in the war) is just good sense.