Written by Jeremy Morgan, tabletop games editor, gamer, and software developer.
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Planescape 4E - The Planes and Belief

23 November 2011

The Lady of Pain's Crest

This one will be short and more of a conceptual post, but I must write my thoughts down before they disappear into the recesses of my mind.

The planes are belief-made-reality. This is the conceit that Planescape runs with. It is the literary theme underneath the entire latticework of weird people and places. Beliefs are important - they matter - because they determine reality. Take a minute and reread that last sentence. I would conjecture that a lot of us live our lives this way. We talk about changing paradigms, shifting our perspective or point of view. We even say things like, “Well, that’s all well and good, but this is the real world.”

I’ve been talking about how to represent the planes mechanically, but let’s take a step back and unpack what I just wrote. Conceptually, the plane is a belief (or belief system) made manifest. Shouldn’t this concept impose itself on its visitors somehow? Part of the danger with the Gray Waste was its effect on the soul of the visitor. It slowly sapped their will to leave. We can mechanize that (as I showed in several posts found here, here, here, and here). What about Acheron or Ysgard? How do we mechanize their effects?

I wanted to think about how to craft something robust and yet more consistent. For context, take a look at “Hacking Stress in Cortex+ by Ryan Macklin. That’s what I want to strive for. Something that looks like this. I bet you’re thinking, ”What does Cortex+ have to do with D&D?” Everything. If there is a way to bolt that on to D&D 4E to get the effect I want, I’ll use it.

I’m not sure how to do this yet, but I’m wanting each plane to impose a stress on a player character. At the very least, it could be a mood influencer with a minor mechanical effect. I want to shoot for something more robust. I want the player characters to feel and react differently when they’re on a particular plane.

Leave a comment and let me know if you think there’s some value here. I’ll probably be thinking about it anyway, and that may or may not work itself into more blog posts.

Maybe I’ve just completely confused you. Ask me a question below or fire one off to me on Twitter.


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