Troll in the Playground
Re: Xenotheurgy: Far Realms magic system
Bonus Material: Notes for Adventuring in the Far Realms
I know, I know, some of you out there are scratching your heads right now. In most games where the far realms appear, it isn’t a travel destination and certainly isn’t a place people purposefully travel to. As there are so few planar connections with the far realms, this approach normally works.
Every now and then, however, I see a request for ideas on far realms adventures. That suggests that there are some players who do end up traveling there (if there weren’t, the planar traits given to it in the manual of the planes were just for decoration).
Although it should be used sparingly, the far realms can make a decent place to travel, either for a brief “what-in-the-world-was-that?” excursion, a “let’s-get-to-the-root-of-the-problem” adventure, or even a “how-on-earth-do-we-get-home?” campaign.
That said, the far realms isn’t really described at any point as, well, infinite
variety and wordless
madness are hard to represent in a finite
number of words
. I wanted to just give people some inspiration or ideas and to give out alternatives to rules that might make traditional adventuring difficult. Everything is optional and I will even spoiler everything here to avoid upsetting the sensibilities of those who prefer vague expectations of what may or may not be out there. Let’s go.
REAL RAMIFICATIONS OF UNSTABLE ELEMENTS
MOVEMENT AND COMBAT
A NOTE ON DIMENSIONAL TRAVEL IN THE FAR REALMS:
A NOTE ON DIMENSIONAL MAPPING
Although it is easy to forget, any given layer of the Far Realms is only very rarely filled with the oxygen needed to survive and speak through. However, even outsiders native to the Far Realms require air to breathe (as dictated by the outsider type). Therefore, it is helpful to assume that the far realms itself sustains creatures without the need for air. Even so, such an environment may be unsuitable for carrying out speech, imposing a 20% spell failure chance on all spells with verbal components.
Also, although players may welcome a layer of air or positive energy and run from layers of fire, water, or negative energy, how should one deal with layers taking the earth elemental trait? The easiest way to deal with them is as encysted layers (see below). However, if a storm of earth runs across the layers and overtakes the PCs (encasing their current layer with the earth elemental), treat them as being subject to a cave-in without the initial damage. Remember, however, that there is no barrier to them simply shifting to the next level (which requires but a mental action).
Lastly, remember that sooner or later, the party will need to sleep (the far realms has flowing time, not timelessness). It’s a big help to point out an occasional layer or two that seem a bit more stable (even if it’s just pure chance).
FEATURES OF THE FAR REALMS:
When using miniatures, it may seem difficult to remember which layer everyone is on, as this can change on a round to round basis. Mapping such an area seems counterintuitive as well. However, there is a simple way to map the far realms. Although it is a bit of a punch to the wallet, perhaps the best way to set things up is to obtain three battle grids (or, if you’re raking in the dough, one per player). Whenever a player or monster shifts from one layer to the next, they move themselves to the corresponding square on the next battle grid. Typically speaking, no encounter, battle or otherwise, will require more than two layers. The player’s aren’t going to spread among four or five layers when the focus of interest is on a mere one or two. If a battle starts going bad, though, a player may (foolishly) try making a run for it. That is was the third battle grid is there for, just-in-case situations.
SURVIVABLE ELDER EVIL COMBAT
Much like the Abyss, the far realm is composed of infinite layers stacked upon each other. Unlike the Abyss (or any other plane, for that matter), the layers are thin. A layer can range from an inch to a mile thick, though the average thickness is 10 feet.
Travelers can see through many layers simultaneously, as if holding a stack of translucent parchment up to the light. I typically rule that under “normal” circumstances, up to 20 layers can be seen in either direction, all seemingly taking up the same space (and thus remaining within range of darkvision and low-light vision). Each layer is blurrier than the next, however, imposing a -1 penalty on spot and search checks per 2 layers. Special senses other than darkvision and low-light vision (such as scent, blindsight, or blindsense) fail to permeate into adjacent layers.
It must be remembered, however, that the far realms is a land almost entirely deprived of natural light, making it hard for those without darkvision to see. Also remember that normal fire cannot be utilized unless in a layer with the air elemental trait but magical fire and light spells do work, although they may attract unwanted attention.
Features and creatures of the far realm are often multidimensional and may exist on one layer simultaneously. As the multiple layers are like a stack of transparent parchment, multilayer creatures are like a dot marked upon each parchment, insignificant if just one parchment is looked at but forming a three-dimensional image when everything is looked at together. Such is the nature of much of the far realm, ranging from tentacled vegetation to the vast creatures that float in place, meaning that it may be impossible to meaningfully interact with multidimensional planar features without some clever thinking (for example, it may not be possible to uproot a far realms “plant” unless someone is placed on each of the five layers it occupies, all pulling at once).
POSSIBLE PLANAR PHENOMENA
Although only the most powerful (and large) of far realms creatures actually occupies more than one plane of existence, I rule that such creatures do have a difficult time detecting and hitting creatures that occupy fewer layers. Against any creature that occupies at least four times as many layers as the PCs (at least 4 layers in most circumstances), all PCs gain a +10 bonus on hide checks, may make such checks without concealment or cover, and gain a 20% miss chance. Furthermore, all listen checks made against the PCs by such creatures take a -10 penalty.
The reasoning behind this is simple. First of all, it is rather difficult to detect a creature that occupies a layer in which only a small part of your eye or ear is located. Secondly, multi-dimensional creatures generally aren’t accustomed to fighting single-layer creatures. If such a grand creature attempts a slam attack, there is a chance that its tentacle simply isn’t on the same layer as the PCs.
Although this may make it a bit easier for PCs to survive if they accidentally attract an Elder Evil’s attention, that does not mean that they are harmless to those they do not notice. Several larger tentacles beings probably propel themselves along with large and powerful tentacles, more than capable of harming those who get in the way. Also, remember that the Kaorti were warped into their shape by the power of an Elder Evil before said being could reach them and take any conscious action against them.
NOTE: A DISORIENTING ENTRY?
FEATS FOR FAR REALMS EXPLORERS:
Far Realms Flux:
NOTE: OVER THE EDGE?
Within some areas of the Far Realms, cause has been removed from effect by varying degrees. One of the more common examples is in sections of the Far Realms where injury has little to do with the cause of the injury. In such areas, all forms of damage are untyped, overcoming all damage reduction and resistances or immunities to energy damage. Typically, any form of damage, rather than leaving the normal wounds, simply open up weeping sores over the target’s body from which an eye occasionally blinks open, looks around, and vanishes (this last effect is, as far as we know, purely cosmetic).
As the Far Realms consist of multiple finite layers stacked on top of each other, one player may consider the ludicrous possibility of simply jumping over the edge of a layer (or simply tries to move from the edge of a larger layer to a smaller layer “below”). Indeed, few layers stretch more than a few miles to a side and a couple comprise of only a couple of five-foot squares. What is to happen in such a situation, when a PC is literally jumping over the edge of the edge?
The thing is, the layers of the Far Realms aren’t stacked perfectly. In fact, a better model for its construction would be a hundred decks of playing cards thrown into a haphazard pile (and even that would be insufficient). Although no two layers are parallel (if such a word can be used to describe the far realms), no matter what edge you jump over, there is another one waiting to catch your fall…somewhere.
If a player jumps over an edge, treat it as an amoebic hole that leads down to the next layer below the player’s position, typically taking 1d6 rounds, making new will saves against the plane’s maddening trait each round as the player feels their entire being falling and forcefully bypassing several encrusted layers. Upon “landing”, the creature takes 20d6 damage as if they had fallen, regardless of the plane’s lack of gravity or the actual distance “fallen”.
Note that due to the lack of gravity, several larger creatures or features may have edges that jut off of one or more layers. A player attempting to climb up such a jutting edge should be able to avoid “falling”
Winds of Heresy:
The Amoebic Consumption:
Scattered throughout the far realms are any number of strange, glowing, three-dimensional glyphs, floating in mid-air. Thought by some to be involved in the prison of some captured creature and by others to be the result of an elder evil’s endless laboring, only one function of these glyphs are known. Any elder evil, from any location on the far realms, can tap into one or more glyphs as a standard action to experience the world through them like scrying sensors. While an elder one is tapped into a glyph, it’s glow increases, decreases, or slightly changes hue, requiring a DC 20 spot check to notice. It is thought that doing so causes elder evils discomfort, explaining why they do not do so more often.
Through Space Alone
Your teleportation effects do not use other planes of existence.
Prerequisites: Spell Focus (Conjuration), Caster level 11th
Benefits: Your teleportation spells do not use other planes of existence unless it is part of their primary function (as with planeshift). As such, teleportation effects not leading to other planes of existence may be used while under the effects of a dimensional anchor or in the area of a dimensional lock.
Special: this feat allows for teleportation within the far realms of insanity.
Your mind resists attempts to break it down.
Prerequisites: Iron Will, Wis 13
Benefits: You gain a +1 bonus to Will saves made against mind-affecting effects. This bonus is doubled against confusion and insanity effects.
Lastly, the first time each day that you roll a natural 1 on a Will save, reroll the saving throw.
Whatever barriers the Far Realms bring forth, you can pass through with ease.
Prerequisite: Burrow Speed or Character level 9th
Benefit: You may pass through encysted layers and travel within them just like any other layer as a (or as part of a) free action used to change layers. While on an encysted layer, your sight and movement is not inhibited by any substance that it is made up of.
If the encysted layer manifests itself as a gap between layers, you may occupy that gap, although any movement in the three dimensions while in the gap results in a “fall” (see above).
Normal: Encysted layers cannot be traveled to and must be skipped over.
You can pass through the water at extreme speeds when required.
Prerequisites: Improved Swimming, Swim 9 ranks
Benefit: Once per minute, you may run through the water, using your full land speed as your base speed (a swim check is still required, however).
Special: this ability allows you to run within the far realms once per minute.
You can control more chaotic forms of magic.
Prerequisite: Spellcraft 4 ranks
Benefit: Once per encounter, while you are in a wild magic zone, you may take a swift action to make your next spell manifest itself naturally as long as it is cast within the next round, ignoring the wild magic zone.
However, ignoring wild magic has a price. For the remainder of the encounter, all magic is automatically subjected to the wild magic trait, not allowing for the normal spellcraft check.
Working on finals, to be immediately followed by a trip abroad this summer. Will be back to posting on June 12th. Apologies for inconveniences in the meantime.
I'm try not to be too vain but this was too perfect not to sig.
Originally Posted by Primal Fury
okay RoC, that is enough! the gitp boards can only take so much awsome, you might actually hurt somebody with this one!
At long last, I have an extended signature