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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default I'm sending my players to a demiplane of madness inspired by Xoriat. Tips?

    I can't send them to the real Xoriat for plot and balance reasons (for example, I'd like to have gravity). So instead they're forcibly transported onto a demiplane that has been built to resemble the Plane of Madness as much as possible.

    I don't want it to just be constantly fighting aberrations. I want to trick them, fool them, make them question their senses and even their thoughts while keeping it combat-minimal. But I'm finding it difficult to come up with creative ways of doing so.

    Right now I have them wake up on an island in an ocean of acid, guided by a mysterious voice (the BBEG) through a bunch of challenges until they meet him. (Partially inspired by the Ayreon album Into the Electric Castle if any of you are familiar with that.) But I have almost no ideas for the actual challenges. They shouldn't be overly lethal and should require creative thinking to solve.

    The group is level 9; 3 or 4 PCs accompanied by 2 NPCs of equal level for plot reasons. I'm also thinking about bringing along two low-level NPCs to serve as cannon fodder. We're in Pathfinder if that matters.
    Last edited by Master Pavo; 2012-10-06 at 02:51 PM.
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    Default Re: I'm sending my players to a demiplane of madness inspired by Xoriat. Tips?

    You don't need lots of aberrations, a single aboleth will suffice.

    What sort of character is your BBEG ? Would lots of illusions be OOC ?
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    Default Re: I'm sending my players to a demiplane of madness inspired by Xoriat. Tips?

    I had already planned for them to fight an Aboleth, actually.

    The BBEG is interesting. He's a Daelkyr spirit that's been stuck on the Material Plane since the Daelkyr War 10,000 years ago who survives by possessing body after body. So his abilities change based on what body he's in; he created the demiplane when he was in a powerful wizard, so there could very well be illusions. The question is how to use them creatively and not just have will save after will save.
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    Default Re: I'm sending my players to a demiplane of madness inspired by Xoriat. Tips?

    Without giving it any deep thought, the first thing that springs to mind would be selective illusions. Create encounters where integral parts of them are a selective illusion.

    For a low level example, I would say a chasm with an illusory bridge. Half the party sees the bridge as real, the rest see it as an illusion or don't see it at all. The trick is that the ones that actually see the illusion as real can interact with it as if its real, while it behaves like an illusion for the ones that see through it.

    Illusory bridges, illusory pillars holding up a ceiling, illusory walls blocking pools of acid, etc.

    After a couple of encounters like that, they just might stop trying to see through illusions and treat everything as real, because it was in their favor before. Your BBEG then throws plain illusions to mess with their heads.

    Just a thought.

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

    OK - maybe the Aboleth is too obvious?
    But one of those could mess up the party single handed.

    Insanity and Confusion etc. are probably something you want to use sparingly, since they mess up player empowerment. But combine Confusion with an otherwise easy fight and you might see some hilarity.

    You could also mess with gravity? Have them walk through a Klein bottle or something. To make this a challenge instead of interesting scenery create a small maze with variable gravity.

    Illusions are best when they don't attract suspicion, but on a demiplane of madness that could be tricky.
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    Default Re: I'm sending my players to a demiplane of madness inspired by Xoriat. Tips?

    You could look at something like Amnesia: Dark Descent and Silent Hill for quite a few good ideas in how to just screw with people.

    Minimize their field of vision to keep things moving at the edges, change the dimensions of the space they're walking in as they progress, eerie sounds come from the abyss and disappear once investigated. You could personalize their madness, have voices speak to them individually, show them past memories twisted darkly, and bring back dead people they've known as if they were never gone. Mess with their perception of time have them meet themselves from an hour, ten years, thirty years, 50 years hence -- still wondering the space. Have an area where the walls all project distorted mirror images of their characters, only to have them come to life and attack them. Make the whole area into a nightmare by MC Escher, with lots of dead ends and non-euclidean architecture

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

    Quote Originally Posted by W3bDragon View Post
    Without giving it any deep thought, the first thing that springs to mind would be selective illusions. Create encounters where integral parts of them are a selective illusion.

    For a low level example, I would say a chasm with an illusory bridge. Half the party sees the bridge as real, the rest see it as an illusion or don't see it at all. The trick is that the ones that actually see the illusion as real can interact with it as if its real, while it behaves like an illusion for the ones that see through it.

    Illusory bridges, illusory pillars holding up a ceiling, illusory walls blocking pools of acid, etc.
    Assuming you're using [shadow] spells in 3.5, the bridge-type stuff works but the others do not; objects auto-succeed on their Will saves, so the pools of acid and ceilings will collapse right through the shadows most (all?) of the time.
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    Default Re: I'm sending my players to a demiplane of madness inspired by Xoriat. Tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by tuggyne View Post
    Assuming you're using [shadow] spells in 3.5, the bridge-type stuff works but the others do not; objects auto-succeed on their Will saves, so the pools of acid and ceilings will collapse right through the shadows most (all?) of the time.
    I was assuming a fair amount of DM fiat for this to work. Basically making it a property of this specific demi-plane created with epic level magics that the powerful wizard had access to.

    As for a specific spell to replicate this, the closest I can think of is a 2nd edition spell called "There/Not There". Maybe that can be ported over to suit the DM's purpose.

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

    Does this party of yours have any npc's?

    Its just that from what i recall from the novels the most likeliest outcome is the Daekyr possesses one of the npc' and returns with them with noone the wiser.

    Then its just a waiting game since once free it can possess whoever slays its current host until it finds someone "suitable".

    Sorry that doesn't help with planning what to do once they're there I figured I ought to mention a possible outcome and who should be effected as i picture them fighting off their foe and "he" slips into the ocean and disappears causing the island to start sinking as well, as a bright light at the highest point on the island beckons your players to rush through before they sink into the acid ocean along with the island...

    Dramatic licence to hide what should be an ominous threat for a future game!
    Last edited by Hopeless; 2012-10-07 at 08:41 AM.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by DoctorStandard View Post
    (Partially inspired by the Ayreon album Into the Electric Castle if any of you are familiar with that.)
    Awesome. That's one of my favourite albums

    I agree with the stuff Kitten Champion suggested - warp the plane around them, change the map as they walk through it. A corridor that was there earlier might be longer or shorter. A door could appear when they weren't looking. A room could be totally different the second time they visit it.

    Also, and this might be hard to pull off but perhaps more in line with your inspiration, have them meet aspects of their own personalities. Force some introspection while messing with their heads.
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    Default Re: I'm sending my players to a demiplane of madness inspired by Xoriat. Tips?

    A few ideas, tried in the past, caused great frustration and some amusement with my players:

    The twisting shifting maze
    a network of tunnels, quite large in scale, that keep shifting and changing (i used underwater tunnels, also a creation of the Daelkyr, the underwater element added the necessity of time before water breathing magic failed). the tunnels shift, and confuse the senses so it is hard to navigate them. the only visible help is in the form of cryptic runes above exits and entrances, which the party may or may not figure out (knowledge abberation or decipher script may help, but it in the end this is a puzzle)

    how does this work from the DMs chair:
    - you plan a few "major" rooms that are sort of nexuses for the rest, about 6-10 should suffice.
    - there should also be quite a feow other "generic/ minor" rooms that can be accessed. i suggest planning about 15-20, and possibly making more if needed.
    - Moving from tunnel to tunnel is quite random, with some odds favoring certain types of rooms, but...
    - Navigating the tunnels might require some skill (dungeoneering?) which may be aided by other skills, but should be quite difficult. Success enables adjusting the random die roll more towards a certain kind of room. A higher difficulty DC might enable returning to a better known room (Easier for major, less for minor)
    - The runes over the exits change as the tunnels change, but they increase the odds for the specific rooms they suggest to. The runes over entrances may give a clue to the type of room you're about to enter (Major of some sort, monster den, empty, unnatural hazard, safe place and so on)
    - Ultimately there should be some runes/ clues to direct to "deeper" rooms which hold slightly different, more dangerous challenges, (My Aboleth was here) before moving on...
    - Very Important: This kind of challenge calls highly on the creativity of the players, and thinking originally. Allow for that.

    Visions and Dreams
    A bit similar to the previous idea, but different. The party finds itself in a sort of a dream/ vision/ scene, and as different characters. One or two of them truly believe they are these other persons, while the rest are themselves. However, the scene shatters (will be explained soon) if the make belief is unmade for the believing characters. The scenes should be weird, mad, perhaps vergin on insanity and improbability.
    - Each scene has 2-3 ways of solving to "get out" to another scene. This is the equivalent of getting to another "room" of this maze.
    - Every 2nd or 3rd such scene should have a way of "advancing upwards/ lower" to a different level of madness and insanity- more extreme scenes.
    - if the make belief is shattered, the major characters(? the ones who believe) are confronted against their madness too much, the scene tears- all characters suffer some sort of mental damage (hp? wis damage?) and are randomly tossed to a different scene.
    -you can pepper this "scene scape" with various monster or creatures feeding on the scenes like the different quori or psychic creatures, which just add to the crazy.
    - all in all i had like 15 scenes, arranged in 3-4 "levels" (can't remember).
    - works well ONLY for players who like a roleplaying challenge, people who'd like something like "who's line is it anyway- the crazy version". led to a lot of laughs with my party.
    - I suggest you also put in some scenes from the party's past, the character's past before he party (distorted to make them seem otherwise), or of NPCs they came to know ("Is it real or not?")

    A monster for a day
    The party's flesh is shape shifted to the forms of difficult to play (but INTERESTING) monsters, in order to overcome their challenges. various low level abberations (Gibbering Mouther?), magical beasts, perhaps outsiders and the like. have fun with it, but prepare adjust character sheets in advance. I'll leave it to you to decide ho exactly this works, but I think the polymorph/ shape change spells are a way to start.
    - picking the right monsters is crucial- they should provide a challenge to the character (both mechanically- how it works with class abilities, but also mentally and emotionally), But also be cool and itneresting enough to provide an interesting experience.
    - If possible I'd suggest monster who's racial abilities offer solutions to problems other than just combat- sliding through halls, reading thoughs, and the like.
    - be weary of how equipment works in the new forms- my suggestion is to have it melt to the new forms completely, let the players resolve being monsters...

    I hope this helps.

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

    Everything Kol Korran said, especially the changing into monsters thing. Especially if there are races like elves and dwarves and half-orcs and halflings. Imagine if suddenly the elf was a Dwarf, or the halfling a hulking monstrosity. In fact it would be really funny just to do a nice old fashioned mind swap. All the same characters but with each other's bodies.
    You could also always turn the paladin and/or good cleric into a demon. That would be funny.
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    Default Re: I'm sending my players to a demiplane of madness inspired by Xoriat. Tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riverdance View Post
    In fact it would be really funny just to do a nice old fashioned mind swap. All the same characters but with each other's bodies.
    I... really like this, actually. Should I make them trade character sheets or just apply the physical changes?

    The monsters thing sounds cool too, but it would be really hard to pull off. Same with the shifting maze.
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    Default Re: I'm sending my players to a demiplane of madness inspired by Xoriat. Tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoctorStandard View Post
    I... really like this, actually. Should I make them trade character sheets or just apply the physical changes?
    I suggest you work out in advance the physical changes (mainly attributes, weapons and body sizes effects) and hand them out to the players instead of having them work them out. Changing character sheets won't work if they keep their own personalities (And classes I assume) You may want them to change classes as well, but that feels like a more complete personality change. Could work though...

    The monsters thing sounds cool too, but it would be really hard to pull off. Same with the shifting maze.
    They take some forethought, I agree. The monster thing is easier done though, the main task is finding suitable monsters, and designing appropriate challenges. The main difficulty here is not for the DM, but the players who need to deal with a slew of new abilities, and more importantly- a radically new body. Some players enjoy this, some less.

    The shifting maze takes some time to prepare (rooms, connections, content, runes) but is quite easy to run. the main challenge there is reacting to the players' wacky ideas, but isn't it always?

    If you're interested i can try and dig through my campaigns for these ideas and help you out. If you prefer simpler stuff, well, that's cool too. You know your group.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by DoctorStandard View Post
    I... really like this, actually. Should I make them trade character sheets or just apply the physical changes?

    The monsters thing sounds cool too, but it would be really hard to pull off. Same with the shifting maze.
    I'd have them switch character sheets but keep their old weapon proficiencies and skills, etc... Say the Wizard and Fighter switched. Suddenly you would have a hulking meat-shield who has almost no melee experience, and frail old guy in robes who knows how to wield a greataxe (even if he might not be strong enough to).

    I think the best way to do this would be to do this would be to have them switch character sheets, but carry over mental scores, as well as skills and feats from their original characters (you could nerf/boost charisma slightly if a character is particularly ugly/attractive but honestly that isn't a large part of most charisma based checks). That way, the rogue who is now in the cleric's body still knows how to pick locks (same intelligence and skills), but it may be harder now that he's in a different body (lower Dex).

    Make sure you check that it makes sense for all the skills and feats to carry over first. For example, Toughness would not go with the fighter when he transferred into the wizard's body.

    EDIT: Now that I've worked out how to do this I really want to try it sometime.
    Last edited by Riverdance; 2012-10-08 at 05:24 PM.
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    Default Re: I'm sending my players to a demiplane of madness inspired by Xoriat. Tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    If you're interested i can try and dig through my campaigns for these ideas and help you out. If you prefer simpler stuff, well, that's cool too. You know your group.
    If you're willing to do that I'll love you forever. The game is Saturday and I don't have a lot of free time to prepare due to work and classes.
    Last edited by Master Pavo; 2012-10-09 at 11:17 PM.
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    Default Re: I'm sending my players to a demiplane of madness inspired by Xoriat. Tips?

    Give their mapper fits: you can use the door in room A to go to room B but if you backtrack through the same door you end up in room C, going up the stairs leads to the basement, magnetic north shifts when they make camp, etc.

    Make magic unpredictable: energy types change, casters much make spellcraft checks or will saves to avoid having their spell behave like a use of a Rod of Wonder, etc.

    Make using diplomacy or bluff on the locals difficult if the players behave as if they're dealing with rational people. Give unattended object the chance to become animated and cause confusion.

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    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.

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