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    Barbarian in the Playground

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    New Orleans, LA

    Default Re: I'm sending my players to a demiplane of madness inspired by Xoriat. Tips?

    Make the players (or the characters, I suppose) not feel safe in their own heads. That's the terror of madness--when your very perception of reality is called into question. If you take away their trust in their senses, if you remove the frame of reference, they've got nothing. Fear of madness is sort of like fear of the dark--the basic assumptions you make about everything no longer apply because your perception is no longer reliable. Who's to say those outlines in the darkness really aren't monsters?

    But see, the difference, then, between visiting a plane of madness and a plane of darkness is that within a plane of madness, all the worst fears and suspicions that one has in the dark are realized. In the dark, that rustling you hear is just the wind. In a plane of madness, that rustling you hear is exactly what you are afraid it might be: say, a giant spider crawling closer, coming for you, specifically. Play to the characters' phobias, fears, and personal failings. Does the knight worry about not living up to his father's legacy? In the plane of madness, he gets to live out that situation exactly.

    I once saw a funny sig quote describing the Far Realms as "you slowly push your head through jell-o while singing nursery rhymes in farsi". That's all well and good. But if you're going for a Demiplane of Madness run by a character that's after the PC's specifically, I'd go less for Far Realms and more for "Freudian Nightmarescape".

    With Regards to Messing With Assumptions About Mechanics and Such:

    If they try to leave the demiplane, make it seem like it's worked. They're back at the tavern, when suddenly the fireplace grows tentacles and the barmaid starts turning into a demon and the children are all bleeding bubbling pitch from every orifice. Amid psychotic shrieks, the tavern melts away to reveal that they have not escaped the Plane after all. Leave them on their guard long after they've left, questioning whether or not this isn't just another trick.

    Furthermore, I'd advise you to make the various encounters symbolic and jungian and such, ranging from the merely aesthetic to being creative with (but not breaking) the rules:

    -Conventional enemies that represent various fears/loves/whatever the PC's may have. A room full of zombies that look like the Druid's beloved family. A temple where the Cleric meets his god, who disowns him and proceeds to attack.

    -A room containing some sort of puzzle, in which the PC's slowly take damage the longer they take to solve it.

    Those are my two cents. If you're trying to construct a Demiplane of Madness, remember that Madness isn't something you simply confront, defeat, and walk away from, like a dragon or a lich. Madness follows you, because it's in your head. That's precisely what makes it so sinister, and so terrifying.
    Last edited by Falconer; 2012-10-17 at 07:56 PM.