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Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

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Anetra's picture
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Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

Let's brainstorm some ideas for cool Elysian locales!

Like the Mechanus thread, let's aim to get somewhere between 2 and 5 spots, with a good mix between cities and sites. Our goal is to create places that any DM at home can slide into their games without too much work on their part. I don't expect there to be much crunch in these articles, and they don't all have to be the same length -- some can definitely be longer and with more detail than others.

Let's remember to try and keep things pre/post-faction war neutral, so the locations can be used in games taking place at either point in the timeline. Still, if it's applicable, a short paragraph on how the place has changed with the Faction War couldn't hurt anyone!

For our cities/towns/general burgs, remember to use the Settlements Template from the Pathdinder Game Master's Guide: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/mastery/settlements.html Examples of this thing in action can be seen in the Sites & Towns For Mechanus thread.

And remember, if you want / need / are interested in creating new government types, qualities, disadvantages, or anything else for the Settlements Statblock, head over to this thread! It needs everybody's love: /forum/creating-planar-settlements-sample-sett...

Wicke's picture
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Re: Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

A couple of sites:

The Evening Star Tavern

The Evening Star seems to exist across all layers of Elysium, somehow placing itself in the path of weary travellers in need of a place to rest just at the verge of twilight. The lights that shine through the windows of the place are bright and warm, and one can hear upbeat music drifting on the breeze for seemingly miles around. Just outside the tavern, the night sky is crystal clear and the air is crisp and refreshing with just a faint smell of cooking food wafting from inside.

Upon entering, the proprietor, a friendly human named Albrect, happily welcomes whoever it might be and quickly ushers them in to a table while his wife, Agnes, brings out a tray heaped with food. Albrect always refuses payment, saying that "I know how hard travelling the road can be. Eat, enjoy!" He won't turn down payment if a person insists, however.

The tavern seems busy at times, with people coming and going and generally making merry. Bards play loud - but not too loud - music while people dance. Friendly games - cards or darts or whatever else strikes a person's fancy - are played in the corners.

At other, more serious times, the tavern is empty, as if to give travellers the peace and quiet they desire.

Rooms are comfortable and cheap, though the destitute are provided cots for free without hesitation. A full night's rest here, even on a cot, affords a person triple the normal hit point recovery. A person is free to stay at the tavern for as long as they desire, though Albrect may ask for some help around the tavern and grounds if a body stays for more than a few days.

The Ruined Castle of Good King Wenslan

Haven't worked out the exact details of this one yet, but the upshot is that it's a decaying castle that looks like it was once majestic and grand. The former king still resides in the castle, but tends to a garden in the courtyard and has converted the stable into his house. I haven't decided if the king is a petitioner who just happens to have kept most of his memories and his castle or if he's a displaced prime who brought his castle along with him.

The idea behind the location is that the king, while still alive/on the Prime, wanted it all and he went about getting everything he could possibly ever want and more. He was ruthless and driven, though never abusive with his power. Knowing that there was nothing more on the bodily realm that he wanted, he sought out paradise and made arrangments to ensure that everything he had would join him in there.

Once he arrived in Elysium, his outlook and his hard heart both grew soft. All his riches and finery were nothing compared to the joy he felt in tilling the ground himself. He ended up giving away most of his riches, though some of them probably still rest somewhere deep in the castle. They're there for the taking, if somebody wishes to brave the ruins.

I think it needs more, but that's the gist.

Palomides's picture
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Re: Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

Not to bust on the King Weslan idea (as I like the idea of someone building his castle in this ideal location but while he still retains his Prime biases - I HAVE to put traps in it and a series of defenses" - only to have him mostly forget that it is there due to his happiness with simpler things); but this raises the question, for me, of what kind of challenge would you put in such a castle? I could see traps, but after a while PCs get tired of those. Stocking it with monsters seems a bit out of theme for the plane.
I do see some humor in the king giving the PCs carte blanche to loot the place and some general directions that end up leading to some death trap. When they return, the genuinely apologetic king says that he truly forgot that he built that in there.

I defined the plane around the themes of healing and life (opposing the themes of the Grey Wastes), so the few ideas I have center around these themes:

Darwin
An area where “healing” creates adaptive mechanisms by mutating visitors (if one goes swimming, he might end up growing gills; he might grow an extra limb if hands are full). The mutations are obvious and unsettling. There is no means to “cure” a victim short of powerful Wish level magic

Po-Coti
A city in the ocean built on stilts upon some low-laying, sometimes submerged, islands. This idyllic Polynesian community is known for its fish and pearl trade. It is also near an oceanic portal making it a prime location for sailing traders. There is an area nearby where the water is semi-breatheable allowing one to dive and swim underwater for much longer. This is quite useful for cultivating their pearl beds (but for obvious reasons, the residents tend to keep this secret to themselves and just let outsiders believe the natives have an innate ability)

The Fountain of Youth
It is uncertain if this location actually exists and many natives regard it as a myth. But if found, what is the price for restoring one's youth? What is the risk? (Possibly lose knowledge/memories they had gained during the years that are washed away?) If the rumors are true and it does exist, it only works for the truly good
[Personally, I would allow it to negate any magical aging from undead, etc. with no risk; but if used for more selfish reasons, one must roll to see if it affects one at all and if there is some cost/side effect]

Merlin's Cave
Nothing much on this one except that I thought about placing the tomb wherein Merlin was trapped by Morgan le Fey somewhere on this plane (whether it was always there, whether it shifted there or whether it exists paritally in Elysium and the Prime, I haven't decided) But I imagine that the idea that such a potential magical cache would PCs foaming at the mouth in anticipation

Wicke's picture
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Re: Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

Bust away. Don't worry about sparing my feelings. Like I said, the idea hadn't been fleshed out. And your point is well placed. Honestly, the castle seems more like a one-shot adventuring location rather than a full on planar site, but there's something appealing to me about this notion of having a crumbling castle with a king who's given up his riches in favor of a simple rural life. It feels right for the plane.

Beyond that, I like your ideas, but there needs to be more of a hook or some sort of tension for them. It's something that Elysium on the whole is lacking in my opinion.

Anetra's picture
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Re: Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

You/we could write it up as an Upper Planar adventure, instead of as a location : > It wold be sweet to be able to include a 1 - 3 session adventure in the zine!

swiftcutter's picture
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Re: Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

I like the ruined castle idea, and I don't have a problem with a site existing just to inject some character and flavor into the setting. The castle could be nothing more than a place where the player characters can rest while the king tells them his story.

That being said, here are a couple of ideas for making the site more interactive...

- The player characters can get a remove curse effect (or something similar) if they leave an item of value in the ruins.

- The king has knowledge of some troubling past event that the players need, but his memory of the event is faded and he doesn't want to talk about it. The players have to wring it out of him and/or search the ruins for clues.

Maybe the castle was built on another plane (Bytopia or the Outlands?) but slid into Elysium as the king had his change of heart.

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Re: Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

Elysium seems like a plane where folks go to gear up for an adventure and it's the ultimate safe place to go to to recover afterward. So things like inherent bonuses to stats or granted powers from a deity (even those who may not follow a particular power may benefit if the god can further their goal by doing so) would be appropriate. Too much though and it would be meddling and would invite retaliation.

Likewise, gifts for adventuring (the proverbial "It's dangerous to go alone. Take this", or Galadrial's phial). When a power charges one of the faithful to retrieve an esoteric item like a teardrop of sunlight, this is where the item is granted to some worthy adventurers for some epic undertaking.

The Tavern I mentioned earlier would make for a good meeting place, where people could gather and relax and be relieved of the burdens that may be weighing them down before they head off to the underworld the next morning. A restful night spent there might give the adventurer's temporary hit points that last until they're used. Or it might give a blanket bonus to skill checks for a day or maybe until a person decides to use it.

I'll have to give this some more thought, though I'm not sure if any of this will be useful for the next issue.

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Re: Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

Great stuff, even if it isn't used in Issue 2 that doesn't mean the article can't go into subsequent issues.

I don't think every Issue has to be 100% about any given theme. Themes just help to have multiple discussions going at the same time and for promotion.

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Wicke's picture
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Re: Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

Elysium is a place where all except those who hold evil in their hearts are potentially welcomed. So really, you could bump into many different types of people on the plane, from the lawful and the chaotic, true neutrality and good folks of all stripes. The plane, out of all the Upper Planes, is probably the most cosmopolitan.

Anyway, going more with my point about Elysium hosting places that assist the heroes in reaching their goals. I have in mind a cave pool (or some other natural location) that, when visited and some sort of sacrifice is made (days worth of fasting and temporary hit point damage that lasts as long as the fasting was for, loss of hit points, something else along those lines), allows the visitor to cast a single divination (and only divinations that reveal information, not cause harm to others). My initial thought was to have it so that days spent fasting (or some other measurable sacrifice) = level of spell cast, and that the cave can only be utilized one time for each visitor. XP costs, material costs and whatever else would be ignored for the casting of this one spell.

I'll keep thinking on Elysium sites. This one is harder than it would first seem.

Anetra's picture
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Re: Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

To what I recall about Elysium, progress travelling through the plane is made by doing good deeds. Thus, fiends that find their way onto the plane typically just get lost and wander around hopelessly until someone finds and slays them, because not doing good deeds = never getting to your destination.

You don't really need to know which WAY it is to your destination on Elysium, the plane knows where you're trying to go, and it will direct you there.

With this in mind, it may be a better idea to, instead of planning out specific SITES for the plane, to instead plan out encounters. Instead of planning a village with "here is a village and you can visit it and stuff" in mind, you can plan out a village focused on "here is a village and here is the challenge you must overcome when you pass through it."

Elysium has always seemed really storybook-fairy land to me, specifically because of the above. You get onto the plane, you walk around, and then bampoof you run into someone who desperately needs you to be a hero.

Wicke's picture
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Re: Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

Heh...we should probably put a thread up in the main area of the forum to explore the topic properly. I've never had a good handle on Elysium.

Palomides's picture
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Re: Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

Another thing to consider that would allow for some non-lethal adventuring on Elysium is that it is a plan of CONFLICT. We could have the plane create some problems that the various factions would want to handle differently.

I can't think of a great example off-hand so I'll use a mediocre one as a place holder to generate conversation:
A group of herders and a group of settlers/farmers have been co-existing on the plane for years. But suddenly, the river where the herders sent they flocks has dried up (the problem created by the plane). The only nearby water source for the herders is one that sits within the lands of the farmers.
This leads to questions of
-Do the farmers OWN the water/land and are they within their rights to deny the herders access?
-Do the needs of the herders rank high enough to justify the destruction of the farmers' crops due to trampling?
-If someone works out a solution where the herders can cross over one person's land to reach the water, which of the farmers will have to make the sacrifice? Will they get any compensation?
etc.

The agents of law (who might side a little more for the farmers) would probably be pushing for a codified arrangement with clear cut rules to try to create a sustainable long-term arrangement. But their method would cause a lot of angry public debate before the rules could be created and what would be the punishments for those who violate these rules?
The agents of chaos (who would probably side a little more with the herders) might be upset that the farmers think that they OWN the water. They might try to create mischievous problems for recalcitrant farmers or might sneak the herds across when no one was looking

The PCs might get roped into this conflict with each side trying to sway them and to tip the debate in their favor. The PCs should be mildly rewarded if they come up or side with a solution that favors one side (and generate - not anger, but hurt feelings on the other side). If they come up with an inventive solution that helps both sides, they should be greatly rewarded. Only if their solution is so horrible that the sides come to (non-lethal) blows would the PCs be penalized.

As I said, not a great example, but a situation or two like this might be more logical than having hordes of evil monsters on the plane. And would make a good low-level adventure

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swiftcutter wrote:

-[A castle where t]he king has knowledge of some troubling past event that the players need, but his memory of the event is faded and he doesn't want to talk about it. The players have to wring it out of him and/or search the ruins for clues.

This made me think that we could make King Weslan's castle a huge metaphor where the locked up treasures ARE the knowledge and secrets of the mortal world that the good king has purged from his mind and locked away when he adopted the Elysial lifestyle. Then the threats involved might also be related to his mind (e.g. traps or monsters that embody his fears, his self-doubts, his anger, his baser emotions, etc.)

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Re: Issue 2: New Sites & Towns for Elysium

This is really good stuff. I think we need to finally hash out the artist use clause so we can solidify some art for this article.

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