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Dark Roads and Golden Hells: The Singing Throat

Out in the Great Beyond, we’re in the last few weeks of pulling Dark Roads and Golden Hells all together (for the Pathfinder side of the project anyway). We have eight new planes gazetteered, more flavorful mini-locations than an elf could spend his whole life adventuring through, at least half a dozen planar roads (both light and dark), and a smorgasbord of new spells, PC options, and hazards . . . not to mention a devilishly dangerous bestiary!

I think the general feel of the planes is going to be bang on target for what we were aiming at: a fresh take that melds the classic feel of past planar settings with new ideas to take the Great Beyond (be it Midgard’s or your own) in different but equally exciting philosophical directions.

In the meantime, here’s the first of a few early Christmas presents from the outer planes: a nice mix of the stylish, the exotic, and the downright weird . . .

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Between Heaven & Hell

"Charon Carrying Souls Across the Styx", Litovchenko“How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell. There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man.”

—Johnny Cash

This week I am mostly cataloguing and organising the 17+ (and still growing) pages of our brainstorm thread, which the damnably keen patrons are filling with such a never-ending river of great and profound ideas that it probably deserves an analog somewhere in Midgard’s cosmology (the River of Ideas maybe, washing over a horde of happy looking bards scooping up handfuls of the torrent). The problem is it’s all such great stuff – I can’t skip a single line. Like the paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise, I’m perpetually playing catch-up as the thread moves ever on to bigger and better things.

This week the talk has moved away from the cold (and sometimes hellfire hot) war between good and evil and onto the more ambiguous points and axis that lay between: In particular Law and Chaos, and how our cosmology might approach them.

Far from a Moorcockian the battle of feuding forces, one of the most out-of-the-box ideas talked about is the relationship between law and chaos being almost like would-be lovers in an elaborate courtship – each seeing something in the other that they recognise, each looking to convert the other to their cause. Angels and devils woo both their courts, but proteans and inevitables play a game of mirrors more abstract and esoteric than heaven or hell: Law has music and mathematics embodied by living symphonies and intelligent equations, but Chaos has fickle muses and lightning strokes of sudden inspiration and both sides fight with fractals and chaos theory. In some places across the planes the two work together or conjoin, and the whole is greater than the sum of its constituent parts. Even the great powers of heaven and hell aren’t sure how to deal with their intangible powers, and agents of Law and Chaos meddle in the affairs of both the wicked and the virtuous.

Dare the PCs explore where angels (and demons) fear to tread?

Blood War and System notes after the jump…

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Planescape Memories

Wright of Derby, The OrreryWe weren’t ready for Planescape. We were happy with our medieval analogues, playing brave young men and women from the local village, setting out in search of fame and fortune. But this was different. This was weird.

First session went something like this: “This is the center of the universe. No one knows for sure exactly where it is but it’s shaped like a doughnut, run by 13 philosophies, and contains doorways to everywhere in existence.” After that, things got a lot more confusing.

A bunch of greener, more fourish conies you have never seen. Top shelf cutters we were not. We did all the stereotypical clueless things: “what’s over the edge of Sigil?” (eek!), “Who’s that chick with the pointy face?” (Aargh!), “If this is the hive, where are the insects?” (urgh!), and “I don’t know what a baatezu is but maybe we should sign up for their war?” (D’oh!). And yeah, we even trusted tieflings…

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Wayward Children of the Abyss (Part 5 of 5)

demonRare to the point of being almost mythical, the children of malignant symmetry are never encountered individually within the Abyss. They are only found en masse when a large group of their kind besieges and lays waste to a demonic settlement or party of travelers. Survivors of such encounters are even rarer, and demonic lords have long seethed in frustration at their inability to find the source of these raids. What they do know is that the children of malignant symmetry do not wander the Abyss skulking in the shadows, nor do they hide on unclaimed or disputed layers.

Habitat & Society

As best the lords of the Abyss can ascertain, the children have a layer of their own from which they periodically emerge, but no divinations reveal its nature or location, and in the aftermath of attacks, no physical link to any adjacent layers remains. As best the demons can tell, their bane appeared out of nowhere and vanished back to the same…

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Wayward Children of the Abyss (Part 4 of 5)

demonAnd though we hide within the very depths of this plane, fearful for the revenge of both our enemies, their spawn, and our own kind, brooding and waiting, we have seeded the depths with children of our own, and it is they who will prepare the way for us.
Hymn of Sanguine Harmony, keketar protean of the Chorus of Malignant Symmetry

Children of Malignant Symmetry: Z’kaelii

Long considered a baseless legend among non-natives of the Abyss, the children of malignant symmetry have plagued the plane’s natives since literally the very beginning. Though small in number, as lingering remnants of the first phase of the genocidal conflict between the Maelstrom and the Abyss, the children are feared on a truly visceral level by demonscreatures of nightmare to a plane of the same. Named for their makers, they were an attempt by the heretical protean Chorus of Malignant Symmetry to embrace and devour the Abyss. Created neither to destroy nor to redeem its natives, they were meant to replace them…

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