Today I posted about my Planescape-Spelljammer-Traveller mashup on Google+ and I was asked to say more about it.
Basically the players got hold of a Spelljammer ship to sail the astral sea. It was one of the classic ships: a Mindflayer Nautilus class called the Black Strangler. Basically the astral sea is what Planescape has as the sea at the bottom of Celestia. When I read about the astral plane, the big wheel and all that, I was confused and I figured the players would be as well. Instead I opted for something alike Marion Zimmer Bradley’s travel to Avalon: get on a boat, travel for a bit, use some magic and you can be elsewhere. I think the astral sea is how D&D 4E does it as well?
Anyway, so we have a “sea” and “islands” on it – or basically worlds, systems. It already starts to sound like a bit of Traveller. Many of them will have gates linking them with larger worlds – fantastic worlds inspired by Planescape: hells, elemental planes, alternative prime material worlds. A bit like Philip José Farmer’s World of Tiers, perhaps?
One world, for example, is non-magical except for the gate that leads to the astral sea. So they built a fortress in the astral sea and discovered that magic works on the other side. Now they use it like a space station or star port to manufacture mundane stuff that requires magic to be built.
All these small worlds, astroids and stations get an UWP and I feed it to my Traveller Subsector Mapper to produce a nice map. Check out the astral sea map and click on the systems to go to the campaign wiki pages.
I think my greatest inspirations from the web where the One Page Dungeon submission The Forgotten Depths by the author of The Metal Earth and the session reports on Planet Algol. Nevertheless my campaign took a while to evolve to this place. At first it was very traditional Wilderlands of High Fantasy. Then we explored the first few levels of Dismal Depth, the Fight On! megadungeon and a bit of Barrow Maze. And when a player character fell into an “infinite pit” and another player character threw himself after the first one (picture), I decided to push it to a new level.
Oh, and the Google+ post was me saying that I was working out the domain stats for the region using the rules from An Echo Resounding (interesting comparison of An Echo Resounding and Adventure Conqueror King). I hope my players aren’t overwhelmed by my sneaky introduction of these domain rules. I think the two key phrases I heard last session justifying this move were “I think we’ll keep Monkey Island as our base!” and “Can we benefit somehow from reopening the mine on Monkey Island?”
I finally decided that the Astral Sea needed a map. One of the player characters decided to pursue his quest to revive Arden, the dead elven god. His corpse is being drained of its remaining life force by the sorcerer queen of the gray elves (Githyanki). His corpse is also drifting in the Astral Sea. A gate was found (a bottomless pit in the Barrowmaze), a ship was gained (pictured on the right), and now the party is sailing the Astral Sea Spelljammer style and finding places in the Planescape fashion.
Anyway, I was wondering how many random encounters I should be rolling for any trips from A to B. I should draw a map, I thought. I remembered my Traveller Subsector Mapper. All I had to do was to generate an UWP for my locations.
Tu Akhra 0404 D0602B3-1 P As De Lo Lt R Susrael 0503 B0604A4-1 N As De Lt NI A Nova Genova 0607 B867686-1 N Ag Ga Lt NI Ri Hinia Oot 0705 E060200-1 As De Lo Lt A
I basically ignored the requirement for an atmosphere of 0 to generate the asteroid trade code. All these worlds have breathable air. Plugging this into the mapper:
I received Countless Doorways by Monte Cook, Wolfgang Baur, Colin McComb, and Ray Vallese today. Adrian – one of my players – recommended the book about two weeks ago (→ Comments on 2007-11-08 New Books). Since my MondayGroup game moved into the planes, I hope to make good use of this book. Basically I’m trying to get a crazy mix of Planescape attitude, Great Wheel cosmology, and D&D 3.0 and 3.5 rule books.
The Manual of the Planes, the Planar Handbook, and Lords of Madness are my D&D 3rd ed. starting points. I think the monster manuals by various publishers provide enough updated critters for this game.
The AD&D 2nd ed. Planescape boxed sets (Campaign Setting, Planes of Law, Planes of Chaos, Planes of Conflict) and a few adventures (Eternal Boundary, Deva Spark, Harbinger House) are supposed to provide some of that Planescape flavor.
The City of Brass is supposed to provide a little 3rd party inspiration.
So I have critters, I have setting, I have plot inspiration. I even built a secret wiki somewhere on the net where I’m keeping notes for this campaign.
I think the only thing that I’m lacking is NPCs and intrigue. Perhaps I should find a copy of Uncaged: Faces of Sigil. Unfortunately it’s quite expensive, and my players haven’t reached Sigil yet. Perhaps I’ll think of enough cool NPCs to populate my campaign wiki.
But first, while I take a break between doing the laundry, packaging stuff, and the disassembly of our bed, I’m reading Beyond Countless Doorways.