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The Planar Debating Club

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Samloyal23's picture
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The Planar Debating Club

Here's a link to a story I wrote a few years ago about a battle in the war of ideas in Sigil, a dangerous game that can damage souls as surely as a sword wounds flesh...

http://www.bukisa.com/articles/209161_the-planar-debating-club

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Jack of tears's picture
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Re: The Planar Debating Club

I had an encounter/adventure based on the dangers of debating in Planescape. For a number of sessions the players would see a pair of debaters in the market arguing for tips - one day when they came back from an adventure they found that the entertainment they'd grown accustomed to was missing and only one of the debaters was present. It turned out the man had successfully argued his colleague right out of existence and was offering a reward to anyone going to the Ethereal to find what was left of him and convince the man that he did indeed exist. The PCs did manage to find him in the course of another Ethereal plane adventure, but they weren't able to convince the man of his existence - indeed he very nearly convinced one of the PCs that they did not exist. (failed his save, had to spend a fate point to avoid fading away)

Surreal Personae's picture
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Re: The Planar Debating Club

This is a really poignant story that basically gets to the heart of what Planescape is about (and the rich atmosphere of Sigil) without needing to tap into the fantastic elements that we often see with such adventures (the presence of fiends/angels, concepts taking material form). For this use of finesse, you did a very good job.

I also like how you played on the faction stereotypes to make the characters no less believable. The idealistic but mild-mannered kid who just wants to help bring peace fits well with the Harmonium idealism, but he isn't the self-righteous jerk that is often associated with the Hardheads. Guess it shows you that even in a faction where conformity is the norm, you can have a lot of variation within it.

Samloyal23's picture
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Re: The Planar Debating Club

Been thinking about Descartes. There's a joke about him going into a McDonalds, being asked "Do you want fries with that?" and ceasing to exist when he replies "I think not..." (poof!) On the planes much is made about belief creating reality, but what happens when a berk no longer believes in Anything? Does the world around him dissolve? What happens when a whole bunch of berks twig to the idea that nothing is real? Hmm...

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Jack of tears's picture
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Re: The Planar Debating Club

>>what happens when a berk no longer believes in Anything? <<

He joins the Bleak Cabal.

The thing is, berk, that while belief shapes reality, the universe is a lot bigger than your or me ... a lot bigger than the factions even ... so a few addle coves and Bleakers, (is there a difference?) believing in nothing ain't going to make a whole lot of difference. Sure, you get enough bodies in one place and you might change the nature of that place, we see that all the time with the Gate Towns, but you won't change the universe as a whole ... probably not even on any meaningful scale ... and if you did, who'd know?

The best what's likely to happen in a case like that is they make a bit of land or housing disappear, cause it to fall apart and end up floating in limbo ... more likely, they depress themselves right out of existence and nobody is the wiser. (Actually it might make a very interesting story seed to see a powerful and influential blood lose his belief in anything do to some tragedy. It gets so bad that he stops believing in the multiverse and - ultimately - himself. The rub is, he does it so well that he unmakes himself completely ... so anything he ever did, every person he influenced, etc. changes to reflect the idea that he'd never been. [suddenly realized this sounds like "It's a Wonderful Life" ... but I guess the idea works] For one reason or another only the PCs are aware of what has happened and as things vanish and fall apart as a result, they're left trying to find a way to bring the berk back and set things right. To add to the suspense, perhaps this man was directly, or indirectly, responsible for saving one of the PC's lives and if they can't get him back, that PC will cease to exist as well.)

Samloyal23's picture
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Re: The Planar Debating Club

It's A Wonderful Life could have a lot of planar tie-ins, and the effects of disbelief could be similar to a temporal paradox. I'm thinking an area of a plane could also be turned "blank", essentially creating a void in which nothing is certain. Losing a debate in Sigil could end up making a berk's kip disappear into a sort of mini-black hole of disbelief...

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I'm Samuel M. Wright, and you're not.

Palomides's picture
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Re: The Planar Debating Club

This is a little off topic (and sorry for that) but it's a little realted and I didn't think my post was worthy of a new thread.

I just read "A Darkness Gathering" in the Illithiad series of modules. In that adventures, the mind flayers were trying to prime the humans of a city to become eventual thralls. To accomplish this the flayers stared a cult aided by a magical/psionic item, a lamp that causes people to be complete believers in an argument/position if heard uninterupted for decent amount of time (10 rounds = 1 minute)

Since belief shapes the planes, such a device seems like it might have a lot of ramifications if brought into a Planescape campaign.
-Does coersed belief have the same power as "true" belief? Would a mob of brainwashed people be able to affect reality?
-Are planar natives (celestials, fiends, modrons, slaad, etc.) immune to such manipulation (as they are embodiments of beliefs)? Is the device only effective on mortals?
-Would any of the factions start a brainwashing program?

I could see an adventure where a misguided, but not purely evil, member of the Harmonium would start such a program believing he was doing a good thing (since everything would be "much better" if everyone just obeyed the Harmonium). This might be a good use of Xaosicects (who might be immune or at least resistant to the device) used as a "good" rebel force trying to break this up

(In an effort to use some underrepresented factions) I could also see this being used by an unsuspecting Signer who delivers her message, sees people converted to her way of thinking, which re-enforces her belief that it was her individual power that converted them. If her mob (and her belief) became large enough, I could see her becoming powerful enough that she might not need the lamp anymore.
Perhaps some other Signers start working against her as her personal shaping of the universe is starting to infringe on their personal shaping of the universe

Seems like this could have ramifications

Samloyal23's picture
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Re: The Planar Debating Club

I can't see an extra-planar creature of belief having their ideas changed very easy, though it may be possible. But brainwashing could be very powerful on the Outer Planes and an item that can create beliefs would be a dangerous dark to hold. Is fake belief possible? That's a judgement call. I think it would be very fragile and could go sideways but it could still create some effects of true faith...

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I'm Samuel M. Wright, and you're not.

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