The Plane Below (4e) - Any good for Planescape?

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The Plane Below (4e) - Any good for Planescape?

Post by Big Mac »

I just wrote a similar thread called: The Plane Above (4e) - Any good for Planescape?. I thought I might as well do the same for the opposite part of 4e's answer to Planescape.

4th Edition D&D has a book called: The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos and I'm wondering how much of the stuff in this book would be useful for anyone running a Planescape game.

As in my previous thread, here is the blurb:
The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos blurb text wrote:Fiendish dungeons and elemental battlefields await…

A hotbed of adventure opportunities await you in the roiling maelstrom of the Elemental Chaos–a plane of titans, elementals, genies, slaads, and demons. This game supplement builds on the overview of the Elemental Chaos presented in the Manual of the Planes™ game supplement and explores the tumultuous plane is greater detail. From the City of Brass to the githzerai monastery of Zerthadlun to the spiraling depths of the Abyss, adventure lurks behind every lava waterfall, across every icy battlefield, and beyond every raging lightning storm.

This game supplement describes the Elemental Chaos in detail, featuring key locations throughout the plane. It also presents a multitude of new monsters, mighty primordials, and powerful demons, as well as adventure hooks, encounters, hazards, and everything Dungeon Masters need to make the Elemental Chaos a featured setting in their campaigns.
I'm not as keen on the idea of the Elemental Chaos, as I was on the Astral Sea concept. This seems much less compatible with the 3e, 2e and 1e cosmology. But, I don't want to write off a book that might have some hidden gems before giving it a chance.

Firstly, this book mentions locations like the City of Brass and Zerthadlun and I wonder if they could be retconned back into the Great Wheel cosmology. If this book was raided to create more traditional Planescape content, how much work would be involved? More importantly, if the non-compatible elements were tossed away, how much would be left behind?

Secondly, I wonder if the entire Elemental Chaos concept could be hand-waved away as the philosophical model of the multiverse that the people of Nentir Vale have. If the Etherial Plane connects to the Elemental and Energy planes (and the other associated planes) could this not be something that some sages treat as one big thing?

Again, I'm looking to see how much of this book is compatible with the 2e vision of Planescape. Again, I also am looking to see how much stuff is left after any 4e-specific rules are removed.

However, I quite like the idea of the Astral plane being "above" and the Etherial plane being "below". It is kind of like someone is trying to think of a philosophical model of the planes as sheets of paper stacked one on top of each other. It might not be what I would choose to have as "real" but it is a concept that is workable (even if it is a concept that can be sold as a mistaken belief).
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Re: The Plane Below (4e) - Any good for Planescape?

Post by ripvanwormer »

I actually think The Plane Below is much, much more useful in a Planescape campaign than The Plane Above. The Elemental Chaos is a combination of the Inner Planes and Limbo from previous editions and the Abyss is part of it, so it's pretty easy to assign the locations and features described in The Plane Below to their appropriate Great Wheel plane. The Plane Above has a very different set of outer planes whose Great Wheel analogies are less than obvious, and in my opinion The Plane Above offers less that is new and interesting.

Just covering the things in The Plane Below in this thread:

Chaos Ship: This is originally a Planescape thing created by the Doomguard and found in the Abyss.
Acidic Mire: The Plane of Ooze and some layers of the Abyss.
Bonepowder Haze: Thanatos, in the Abyss (as the book says).
Chaos Breath: The Elemental Plane of Air, any Outer Plane from Arborea to the Abyss.
Crawling Earth: Elemental Plane of Earth, Quasielemental Plane of Mineral, Paraelemental Plane of Ooze, Abyss, Pandemonium, Ysgard, Limbo. There could be variant forms of this on other Inner Planes featuring solid matter (Crawling Salt, Crawling Ice, etc.).
Demon Jags: The Abyss.
Demon Slick: The Abyss.
Earthflow: Paraelemental Plane of Earth, Paraelemental Plane of Ooze, Ysgard, the Abyss, other possibilities. Possible variants: Iceflow, Ashflow, Saltflow, etc.
Elemental Spout: Any inner plane, Limbo, etc.
Energy Alteration Field: Limbo.
Frozen Fire: Paraelemental Plane of Ice, Limbo.
Ice Maws: Paraelemental Plane of Ice, certain cold layers of the Abyss.
Infectous Pallor: The Abyss.
Lightning Mist: Quasielemental Plane of Lightning, Quasielemental Plane of Mist, the border between them.
Liquid Thunder: Quasielemental Plane of Lightning.
Phase Crystal: Quasielemental Plane of Mineral.
Primordial Font: Any appropriate Inner Plane or Limbo.
Strangling Wind: Plane of Air, airy planes of the Abyss.
Wrath Mud: Plane of Ooze, muddy layers of the Abyss.
Gorgon Mud: Plane of Ooze.
Luminous Node: Plane of Fire, Lightning, Radiance, or Positive Energy.
Steel Rain: Plane of Mineral, Acheron, Limbo.
Voidblight: Quasielemental Plane of Vacuum.
Gates of Winter: Plane of Ice.
Elemental Eruptions: Limbo.
Elemental Transformation Field: Limbo.
Skystone Field: Limbo.
Lightningstone Field: Quasielemental Plane of Lightning, Limbo.
Void Crust: Quasielemental Plane of Vacuum, possibly LImbo.
Chaotic Planar Rift: Limbo.
Corruption Sludge Pond: Abyss.
Multielemental Transformation Field: Limbo.
Bargaining with an Efreet: Very useful for the Plane of Fire.
Reasoning with a Slaad: Very useful for Limbo.
Repairing a Lightning Skiff: Useful on any non-solid plane.
Sailing the Sea of Fire: Elemental Plane of Fire.
Hidden Elements: This is a campaign outline involving politics in the City of Brass. Elemental Plane of Fire, mostly, though the slaadi are involved a little. This is fine. The elemental cultists are probably the same as the Lords of the Elder Elements mentioned in the Living Greyhawk Journal.
To Harness the Chaos: A fanatic angel gets the PCs to fight against various minions of the Primordials. In Planescape you could call them the Primordials or just use various imprisoned chaotic evil entities, such as the titans in Carceri, the Sleeping Ones in the Plane of Ice, the Elemental Princes of Evil, the slaad Lords of Chaos, the Queen of Chaos, Mishka the Wolf-Spider, and whatever else you like. The various githzerai settlements mentioned are all in Limbo.
The Bigger They Are: An ancient primordial entity is imprisoned in the Paraelemental Plane of Ice. Mephistopheles (Molikroth in Planescape) gets involved.
Planar Adventures: The PCs get a hold of a plane-traveling ship. In The Plane Below, it's referred to as a spelljammer, but in earlier editions it's obviously more than that (though it may be a spelljammer as well). This campaign involves both the City of Brass and the githzerai town of Zerthadlun, but the ship can travel through planes so that doesn't matter. In Planescape, references to Zerthadlun might be changed to Shr'akt'lor unless you want to accept Shr'akt'lor's fate in the Planescape: Torment video game as canon and assume that Zerthadlun was founded to replace Shr'akt'lor after Dak'kon caused its fall.
On the Rocks: This adventure hook involves a dwarf settlement on the Material Plane and galeb duhr from the Plane of Earth.
Seed of Chaos: Demons are invading Limbo.
War of the Seasons: This one involves the Feywild, but references to the Summer and Winter Courts of the Fey could be changed to the Seelie and Unseelie Courts in Planescape. If so, the Queen of Air and Darkness has acquired allies on the Paraelemental Plane of Ice, while a rogue seelie fey god (perhaps the chaotic neutral Damh, god of dance) allied himself with fire elementals.
There goes the neighborhood: The City of Brass is threatened by a realm ruled by a naga druid.That could happen in Planescape, I guess.
Shah Abdul-Azim Abassi: a City of Brass NPC. Unstatted, so edition-independent.
The Stone Council: Elemental Plane of Earth. Unstatted.
Varaphyr: An ancient, angry djinn, either connected to the war between the gods and genies mentioned in the Land of Fate boxed set or to the war between and Calim and Memnon in Forgotten Realms history. Unstatted.
Zat: A githzerai NPC. Unstatted.
The Cult of the Elder Elemental Eye: This is the cult from the classic module Temple of Elemental Evil and its 3e-era sequel, Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. This writeup is inspired by the latter source's take.
The Grave-Minders: An organization dedicated to scouring the graves and prisons of primordials for their own gain. As above, "primordials" can be replaced with any group of powerful imprisoned entities.
The Speakers of Xaos: This sect is a direct extension of Planescape canon. It's what some of the Xaositects became after the Faction War. The events of the Faction War are summarized in a sidebar.
Pastron of Tziphal: An artifact associated with an ancient earthen primordial said to be the creator of all petrifying creatures. Elemental Plane of Earth.
Crystal of Ebon Flame: A 1e and 2e-era artifact, now associated with Tharizdun.
Wave: An artifact from the classic module White Plume Mountain and its sequel.
Archons: These have nothing to do with 1e-3e archons, but they're essentially what the Dragonlance campaign calls fire minions (but associated with other elements as well). Irdoc Morda could go in the Quasielemental Plane of Earth or Mineral, or some iron-based demiplane. Mordram Bek could go on any inner plane. Thrak-Harda would go in the Elemental Plane of Earth.
Djinns: The 3rd edition take on djinn is different from previous editions, making them grim and vengeful rather than chaotic good and freedom-loving. Still, there might be some of them like that.
Efreets: This is pretty much all usable with previous editions. There's some interesting stuff, including their alphabet.
The Smoldering Gate: An efreeti fortress built over a portal to the Abyss. This could exist in Planescape.
The Tower of Djamela: A former efreeti tower, now a dungeon ruled by a shadar-kai mercenary. An individual DM might choose a different race for the mercenary.
Change in the City of Brass: This is a sidebar detailing the aftermath of the Scales of War adventure path in 4e-era Dungeon Magazine, though usable with a different excuse for a new sultan taking over (for example, the endgame of Necromancer Games' City of Brass boxed set).
Genasi: This is usable with previous editions, although it might fit better with what Planescape and Dark Sun called ruvoka.
Giants and titans: Giants are different in 4th edition, more universally destructive, elemental, and evil than in previous editions. Thrym and Surtur lived in Ysgard in Planescape.
Githzerai: There's some really interesting bits on githzerai culture, settlements, and history here. IN Planescape they live in Limbo rather than the Elemental Chaos, but other than that it should work well.
Slaads: Most of this works fine with previous editions, with the slight change that slaadi are native to Limbo. The Spawning Stone is from Planes of Chaos and Tales of the Infinite Staircase.
Other races: Most of this is usable in previous editions. Phoelarchs were originally statted in the 3rd edition era. Iktha-Lau the Ever Empty might live in the Quasielemental Plane of Vacuum, while Ulctilan-tilokla might dwell on the Ethereal Plane.
The Brazen Bazaar: A location in the City of Brass.
Canaughlin Bog: This island should be in Limbo.
The Choking Palace: Ehkahk and his Choking Palace were briefly detailed in the Planescape accessory The Inner Planes, but this is a much more detailed look. It's pretty great, too. He belongs in the Paraelemental Plane of Smoke.
Gloamnull, City of Rain: A settlement on the Elemental Plane of Air that entered into a pact with Dagon.
Irdoc Morda: A forge of elemental minions of all varieties, though located on the Elemental Plane of Earth.
The Moteswarm: I'd put this in Limbo, given its extreme chaos and strong githzerai presence.
Pandemonium Stone: Despite the name, this should be in Limbo, though it's occasionally summoned to other planes.
Pillars of Creation: I might actually place these in the Ethereal Plane, though they obviously have connections to the appropriate inner planes.
The Riverweb: These rivers could flow through many planes, from Elemental Air to Elemental Earth to Fire to Ice. It's an interesting way to travel the planes.
Sanzerathad: A githzerai monastery in Limbo.
The Glittering Mine: The Plane of Mineral. Perhaps this was originally in the hands of the tsnng before Graz'zt's minions invaded it. Mineral quasielementals of various kinds could live here, as well as the galeb duhr.
The Body Luminous: This is actually a site in the Ethereal Plane originally described in the Planescape accessory A Guide to the Ethereal Plane. There's more detail here.
The Mountain Builder's Burrow: The Elemental Plane of Earth, though the rivers of lava and mud and salt might flow from the planes of Magma and Ooze and Salt.

Then there's a big section on the Abyss, all of which is usable in (and some of it was originally from) Planescape's Abyss. Mal Arundak was originally described in Faces of Evil: The Fiends; it's considerably expanded upon here. Molor, the Plains of Rust, and the Spires of Rajzak are all new.

Primeval Ooze: Paraelemental Plane of Ooze.
Storm That Walks: Quasielemental Plane of Lightning.
Archons: These are malevolent elemental constructs who serve elemental princes of evil, evil gods, and the like. Should be "elemental minions" in Dragonlance terms. In 3rd edition, elemental minions of air, fire, earth, and water are detailed in the Bestiary of Krynn. The Plane Below adds iron and mud "archons" to this mix (in 4th edition stats).
Blightborn demons: The Abyss.
Writhing crag: Elemental Plane of Earth.
Eisk Jaat: Kostchtchie's realm in the Abyss (they're essentially the same as frost dwarves from the 3e Planar Handbook).
Scorchwind phantom: These are similar to the wavefires in the Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix III.
Ashfrost assassin: ash-ice hybrid elementals don't really make sense in Planescape except as artificial creations. Perhaps serving the Doomguard?
Sunsearer: Plane of Radiance.
Diamondstorm reaper: Plane of Mineral, perhaps?
Caustic Slayer: Plane of Salt.
Primordial Blot: Limbo would fit best, but this is possibly supposed to be the 4th edition version of the umbral blot/blackball of previous editions. I'm not sure.
Slaad: New slaad types are welcome, though I'd make them chaotic neutral (an alignment that doesn't exist in 4e) rather than evil.
Ehkahk: Ehkahk, the paraelemental lord of smoke, got a paragraph in The Inner Planes but is much more detailed here.
Liricosa: A revered githzerai sage.
Sirrajadt: A djinni of the vengeful 4th edition mold.
Solkara: A primordial imprisoned in the Paraelemental Plane of Ice, though formerly associated with water.
Xixecal: A servant of Solkara, also on the Plane of Ice. Originally described in the 3e Epic Level Handbook.
Miramakur: A mad storm giant cultist of Solkara, more likely found on the Material Plane or Plane of Water.
Ygorl: An interesting take on a slaad lord originally created by Charles Stross for White Dwarf magazine and included in the 1st edition Fiend Folio.

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Re: The Plane Below (4e) - Any good for Planescape?

Post by Big Mac »

ripvanwormer wrote:Voidblight: Quasielemental Plane of Vacuum.
Is that something that would work well in wildspace? I've always felt that quasielementals from the Plane of Vacuum would be more comfortable in wildspace than on any other part of the Material Plane.
ripvanwormer wrote:Hidden Elements: This is a campaign outline involving politics in the City of Brass. Elemental Plane of Fire, mostly, though the slaadi are involved a little. This is fine. The elemental cultists are probably the same as the Lords of the Elder Elements mentioned in the Living Greyhawk Journal.
Does the material in Living Greyhawk Journal connect naturally to the City of Brass, or would a GM need to build a bridging story between the two?
ripvanwormer wrote:Planar Adventures: The PCs get a hold of a plane-traveling ship. In The Plane Below, it's referred to as a spelljammer, but in earlier editions it's obviously more than that (though it may be a spelljammer as well). This campaign involves both the City of Brass and the githzerai town of Zerthadlun, but the ship can travel through planes so that doesn't matter. In Planescape, references to Zerthadlun might be changed to Shr'akt'lor unless you want to accept Shr'akt'lor's fate in the Planescape: Torment video game as canon and assume that Zerthadlun was founded to replace Shr'akt'lor after Dak'kon caused its fall.
The spelljamming ship in Living Forgotten Realms is one that is can travel to other planes. (This is different from Rich Baker's spelljamming ship in Corsair, which is a more conventional spelljamming ship.) I think that "planejamming" is a natural progression for people that know about the existence of both planewalking and spelljamming. (It certainly would be the way for a faction like the Elven Navy to combat the Pirates of Gith.) But I would personally rule that it was something undiscovered by most in the era of the AD&D Adventures in Space boxed set. So I would guess that the way I would treat this differently depending on what era I wanted to use it in. Same goes for Zerhadlun vs Shr'akt'lor. That depends on if you want to run a pre-Torment or post-Torment game.
ripvanwormer wrote:On the Rocks: This adventure hook involves a dwarf settlement on the Material Plane and galeb duhr from the Plane of Earth.
Do you think that is a dwarf settlement in Nentir Vale? Is there any clue as to its location?

And if it is in Nentir Vale, is it one of the "raided locations" that has been lifted from Greyhawk or Mystara?
ripvanwormer wrote:The Cult of the Elder Elemental Eye: This is the cult from the classic module Temple of Elemental Evil and its 3e-era sequel, Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. This writeup is inspired by the latter source's take.
Is there anything new about the cult that wasn't in earlier sources?

And is this the Nentir Vale version of the temple?
ripvanwormer wrote:Wave: An artifact from the classic module White Plume Mountain and its sequel.
Same questions as Temple of Elemental Evil. Is there anything new with Wave or is it just a 4e restat? And is this connected to the Nentir Vale version of White Plume Mountain?
ripvanwormer wrote:Archons: These have nothing to do with 1e-3e archons, but they're essentially what the Dragonlance campaign calls fire minions (but associated with other elements as well). Irdoc Morda could go in the Quasielemental Plane of Earth or Mineral, or some iron-based demiplane. Mordram Bek could go on any inner plane. Thrak-Harda would go in the Elemental Plane of Earth.
I wonder why they used the old name for something different. :?

Is there anything at all archon-like about them? Could you fit them into the 1e-3e mold if you used a crowbar?
ripvanwormer wrote:Djinns: The 3rd edition take on djinn is different from previous editions, making them grim and vengeful rather than chaotic good and freedom-loving. Still, there might be some of them like that.
Hmmm. I suppose that if elves can have drow, the djinns could have a subrace that was radically different from the main group. Is there anything about the original djinn that would prevent an alignment change?
ripvanwormer wrote:Githzerai: There's some really interesting bits on githzerai culture, settlements, and history here. IN Planescape they live in Limbo rather than the Elemental Chaos, but other than that it should work well.
Well, in Planescape, I'm assuming (for myself) that Elemental Chaos is a discounted model of the planes that clueless people living on the Material Plane in Nentir Vale subscribe to. That is my Ben Kenobi solution for fitting 4e into Planescape.

If I use my Ben Kenobi solution, that would allow Nentir Vale planewalkers to access the Elemental Chaos and travel to Limbo via some route that Planewalkers would describe as crossing multiple planes. Planescape has stuff like Gate Towns, and if you didn't recognise* a Gate Town as anything other than a gate in a wall around a city, you might think of both sides of that gate as being on the same plane.

* = And by recognise I mean either that you didn't perceive something or that you actively disbelieved other interpretations of how it worked.
ripvanwormer wrote:Sanzerathad: A githzerai monastery in Limbo.
Githzerai monks sound like they could be a fun addition to D&D. Is this something new?
ripvanwormer wrote:Archons: These are malevolent elemental constructs who serve elemental princes of evil, evil gods, and the like. Should be "elemental minions" in Dragonlance terms. In 3rd edition, elemental minions of air, fire, earth, and water are detailed in the Bestiary of Krynn. The Plane Below adds iron and mud "archons" to this mix (in 4th edition stats).
I guess if they are evil, a crowbar solution to fit them in with good archons would be a bit hard...

...unless some princes of evil managed to corrupt a group of archons and turn them into elementals. :?

I think they would have been better off using a different name for elemental constructs.
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Re: The Plane Below (4e) - Any good for Planescape?

Post by ripvanwormer »

Big Mac wrote:Is that something that would work well in wildspace?
I suppose it could. It's described as "a mass of pulsing blackness" that gradually becomes "swarming motes of nothingness drifting over the ground, each one absorbing light, life, and sanity." It hunts down "nondemon living creatures," which I guess implies it's a phenomenon of the Abyss, though you could ignore that and just have it hunt down all life, including demonic life.
Does the material in Living Greyhawk Journal connect naturally to the City of Brass, or would a GM need to build a bridging story between the two?
The Lords of the Elder Elements are basically just a throwaway line (and accompanying illustration) in the Living Greyhawk Journal #4. It's an idea that Gary Holian had but never fully developed. It's not really important except that it seems similar to the primordial cults of 4th edition, which have been developed.

Primordials in general correspond to the elemental, quasielemental, and paraelemental lords of earlier editions, though many are new and significantly different from those described in previous editions of the game. They tend to be more evil and hostile to the rest of creation than inner planar lords in 1st-3rd editions were, though they're about even with the Elemental Princes of Evil. Some of the "Elder Elemental Evils" in the Forgotten Realms setting, including Dendar the Night Serpent and Kezef the Chaos Hound, were reinterpreted as primordials in 4th edition.

Tales of the Lamp for Al-Qadim mentioned a temple of Imix, the Elemental Prince of Evil Fire in the City of Brass, and Imix is described as a primordial in 4e.

In the adventure outline I was talking about (which is less than a page in length), low-level PCs discover that the aggressive city-state of Hassiek is being advised by primordial cultists. Hassiek isn't on Oerth, so my mention of the Lords of the Elder Elements was probably not relevant at all. In a Greyhawk campaign you'd probably want to pick a different aggressive group like the Slave Lords, Scarlet Brotherhood, or perhaps an ambitious city-state like Rel Astra. The particular mix of enemies/minions mentioned in The Plane Below (demons, archons, elementals, and slaadi) might be too eclectic for a campaign set in the traditional AD&D cosmology. If you made the cult dedicated to just Imix, you'd probably want to stick to fire-related enemies. If it were more of a mixed cult, like the Cult of Elemental Evil, you'd be able to pick from a broader group of foes.

There isn't any direct connection between the primordial cult and the City of Brass except that the efreeti sheikh Ma'mum is using the leaders of the cultists
as puppets in his scheme for world conquest. It's just one ambitious efreeti, not the City of Brass as a whole.
Same goes for Zerhadlun vs Shr'akt'lor. That depends on if you want to run a pre-Torment or post-Torment game.
It goes a little deeper than that. In the game, the githzerai Dak'kon is responsible for spreading a heresy (the Iron Circle of Zerthimon) that divides the wills of the population of Shra'kt'lor and makes it vulnerable to a githyanki attack. This is part of the background of the game rather than something that happens in the present day; I think it's supposed to have happened a few decades ago, during one of the Nameless One's previous incarnations (his "pragmatic" incarnation). Planescape sourcebooks describe Shra'kt'lor as a city that exists in the present day, so there's something of a contradiction there. Interestingly, no third or fourth edition sourcebook has ever mentioned Shra'kt'lor.

But yeah, it basically depends on whether you want to treat Planescape: Torment as canon.
Do you think that is a dwarf settlement in Nentir Vale? Is there any clue as to its location? And if it is in Nentir Vale, is it one of the "raided locations" that has been lifted from Greyhawk or Mystara?
It's Hammerfast in Nentir Vale, which is pretty much the dwarf community 4th edition always uses. It wasn't raided from another world. It could as easily be Rockhome on Mystara or the Principality of Ulek on Oerth, though, assuming you're wiling to accept the conceit of galeb duhr slaves of a hill giant clan kidnapping dwarves. I think it might make more sense to use sandmen and dao, though, in games that include those creatures. You could even fit the yak-men into it.
Is there anything new about the cult that wasn't in earlier sources?
A little bit. Not much. The best source is probably Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil.
And is this the Nentir Vale version of the temple?
Presumably. I don't see any specific Nentir Vale references in it, though; it pretty much just describes the cult and temple as they exist in Greyhawk. The only things different are the leaders they describe and the idea that there's a parallel temple in the Elemental Chaos that would create a permanent conduit between the Elemental Chaos and mortal world if it were ever brought into conjunction with the mortal world's version of the temple.
Same questions as Temple of Elemental Evil. Is there anything new with Wave or is it just a 4e restat? And is this connected to the Nentir Vale version of White Plume Mountain?
Well, artifact descriptions are much longer in 4e than they were in previous editions, detailing things like how the artifact reacts to varying PC actions. They connected Wave to the 4e goddess Melora instead of Poseidon, as the original module did.
I wonder why they used the old name for something different. :?

Is there anything at all archon-like about them? Could you fit them into the 1e-3e mold if you used a crowbar?
4th edition archons have absolutely nothing in common with the archons of previous editions. The WotC designers just decided that they didn't want a separate planar species for each alignment (partly because they included fewer alignments, and partly because their design philosophy was that it was bad to create monsters just to fill in slots), so they cut out celestial archons from the game and gave the name to a different monster. The same thing happened to eladrins. It's things like this that make the Forgotten Realms wiki a bit of a mess; the change in cosmology between 2e and 3e also messed the wiki up considerably.
Hmmm. I suppose that if elves can have drow, the djinns could have a subrace that was radically different from the main group. Is there anything about the original djinn that would prevent an alignment change?
Not really; genies are all about elements and magic, not alignment. You wouldn't really need a separate subrace of neutral djinn, any more than you need a separate subrace of humans to explain a human community with a nonstandard alignment. For that matter, you could easily have a community of chaotic neutral high elves without inventing a separate subrace to explain them. These seem more like aggrieved and scattered individuals than a community, anyway.
Githzerai monks sound like they could be a fun addition to D&D. Is this something new?
No, it's part of Charles Stross's original concept of the race. You don't see it in 2nd edition because the monk class mostly didn't exist in 2nd edition (except in the form of the fighting monk cleric kit, which doesn't work because githzerai aren't supposed to have clerics in 2e, and the monk class included in The Scarlet Brotherhood accessory late, late in 2nd edition). Githzerai monks appeared in 3rd edition as soon as githzerai did, since the game had monks again. 2nd edition described githzerai as "monastic," but was unable to give them an appropriate character class to fit.
...unless some princes of evil managed to corrupt a group of archons and turn them into elementals. :?

I think they would have been better off using a different name for elemental constructs.
Nope. Archons, in previous editions, are angelic beings, sometimes with animal characteristics. 4th edition archons are evil elementals wearing suits of armor. Having one transform into the other would make as much sense as a group of kobolds being corrupted elves, or a bunch of gold dragons being corrupted umber hulks. Other than the name, they don't have a single thing in common. The "corrupted celestial" theory wouldn't make any sense in the context of The Plane Below anyway, which has archons being created in archon forges, possession of which constitutes their main hook. Who would care who had control of an archon forge when you could just cut off whatever route the kidnappers are taking to ship archon slaves to the Inner Planes and render them useless? And why would primordials use such a specific and distant celestial race as their raw material when they can get hold of elementals much more easily? I mean, if an archon could be transformed into an evil, amorphous soldier of darkness, presumably anything could, including races that would cause them much fewer problems to capture.

If you're playing in 2nd or 3rd edition, just use Krynn-style elemental minions instead, since that's essentially what they are. It's like if 4th edition renamed harpies "trolls," it would make more sense for players of previous editions to continue to use harpies than to concoct an elaborate theory about how all trolls were harpies transformed by evil wizards.
Last edited by ripvanwormer on Thu May 02, 2013 3:33 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Plane Below (4e) - Any good for Planescape?

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Wow, nice job Rip!

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Re: The Plane Below (4e) - Any good for Planescape?

Post by ripvanwormer »

ripvanwormer wrote:4th edition archons are evil elementals wearing suits of armor... If you're playing in 2nd or 3rd edition, just use Krynn-style elemental minions instead, since that's essentially what they are.
The ember guards from the 3.5 Monster Manual V would fit, too. They look different (they have lumpy skins of brass and stone rather than suits of human-looking armor), but their stated origin - artificial creations of the elemental prince Imix - is similar enough that one could adopt the fire archon forges from 4th edition as the origin of ember guards as well. The Forgotten Realms version of their origin (recounted in the same book) even has them being created in forges.

Also the wind warrior from Dungeon #124, which looks exactly like a 4th edition air archon (an elemental wearing ceremonial plate armor), though they aren't evil. They were created by the Wind Dukes of Aaqa rather than by the primordials.
Not really; genies are all about elements and magic, not alignment. You wouldn't really need a separate subrace of neutral djinn, any more than you need a separate subrace of humans to explain a human community with a nonstandard alignment. For that matter, you could easily have a community of chaotic neutral high elves without inventing a separate subrace to explain them. These seem more like aggrieved and scattered individuals than a community, anyway.
Another possibility might be to use the hawanar from Necromancer Games' City of Brass boxed set. These are hybrids of djinn and efreet; their bad attitude would be directed at the efreet (who drove them from the City of Brass and often seek to destroy them) rather than the gods.

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Re: The Plane Below (4e) - Any good for Planescape?

Post by Big Mac »

ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Is that something that would work well in wildspace?
I suppose it could. It's described as "a mass of pulsing blackness" that gradually becomes "swarming motes of nothingness drifting over the ground, each one absorbing light, life, and sanity." It hunts down "nondemon living creatures," which I guess implies it's a phenomenon of the Abyss, though you could ignore that and just have it hunt down all life, including demonic life.
I actually prefer to try to stick to the canon, rather than change things*. If these things hunt down "nondemon living creatures" that would already include most spacefarers (as people on the Prime Material Plane are not demons) so I don't really see a reason to change this.

* = Hence all the anal questions, I've asked you. (And thanks for shaing your knowledge.)

I was thinking that if Voidblights like vacuum, and some of them somehow got onto the Material Plane, the would probably suffer on planets, but feel mostly at home in the Void in space. If they were at home in Wildspace they might be able to thrive (or breed, if they have a way to breed). So there might be "masses of pulsating blackness" that float in the vacuum of wildspace and if a spelljamming ship flew into one of these "objects" it would get pulled down to the deck of the ship, change into the "swarming motes of nothingness drifting over the deck" and then attack however it is said to attack.

You said they might be from the Quasielemental Plane of Vacuum before. Maybe they could be there, as well as the Abyss. (Maybe the ones in the Abyss have been convinced not to kill demons.)
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Does the material in Living Greyhawk Journal connect naturally to the City of Brass, or would a GM need to build a bridging story between the two?
The Lords of the Elder Elements are basically just a throwaway line (and accompanying illustration) in the Living Greyhawk Journal #4. It's an idea that Gary Holian had but never fully developed. It's not really important except that it seems similar to the primordial cults of 4th edition, which have been developed.

Primordials in general correspond to the elemental, quasielemental, and paraelemental lords of earlier editions, though many are new and significantly different from those described in previous editions of the game. They tend to be more evil and hostile to the rest of creation than inner planar lords in 1st-3rd editions were, though they're about even with the Elemental Princes of Evil. Some of the "Elder Elemental Evils" in the Forgotten Realms setting, including Dendar the Night Serpent and Kezef the Chaos Hound, were reinterpreted as primordials in 4th edition.
I guess I would take the word "Primortial" as being a term that originates from the Prime Material Plane. It either comes from Forgotten Realm's Prime Material plane, which is set over a hundred years after Planescape, or from Nentir Vale (which is new) or from Eberron (which is also fairly new from the point of view of Planescape). So this sort of thing could probably be handwaved away as a fairly new Prime Material theory about what elemental, quasielemental and paraelemental lords are. Basically some Clueless Prime decided to call the lords "Primordials" and the name stuck. At least, that is the hand-wave I would be tempted to go for.
ripvanwormer wrote:Tales of the Lamp for Al-Qadim mentioned a temple of Imix, the Elemental Prince of Evil Fire in the City of Brass, and Imix is described as a primordial in 4e.

In the adventure outline I was talking about (which is less than a page in length), low-level PCs discover that the aggressive city-state of Hassiek is being advised by primordial cultists. Hassiek isn't on Oerth, so my mention of the Lords of the Elder Elements was probably not relevant at all. In a Greyhawk campaign you'd probably want to pick a different aggressive group like the Slave Lords, Scarlet Brotherhood, or perhaps an ambitious city-state like Rel Astra. The particular mix of enemies/minions mentioned in The Plane Below (demons, archons, elementals, and slaadi) might be too eclectic for a campaign set in the traditional AD&D cosmology. If you made the cult dedicated to just Imix, you'd probably want to stick to fire-related enemies. If it were more of a mixed cult, like the Cult of Elemental Evil, you'd be able to pick from a broader group of foes.

There isn't any direct connection between the primordial cult and the City of Brass except that the efreeti sheikh Ma'mum is using the leaders of the cultists
as puppets in his scheme for world conquest. It's just one ambitious efreeti, not the City of Brass as a whole.
If an Al-Qadim source mentioned a temple of Imix, maybe it would make sense to set this in Zakhara. (Or if it is "generic" perhaps that means Hassiek defaults to Nentir Vale.)

If the concept of Primordials is one that the post-Spellplagued Realms has adopted, maybe a plot featuring elemetal planes, quasi-elemental planes, para-elemental planes and the Abyss might work for any location in Realmspace.
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Same goes for Zerhadlun vs Shr'akt'lor. That depends on if you want to run a pre-Torment or post-Torment game.
It goes a little deeper than that. In the game, the githzerai Dak'kon is responsible for spreading a heresy (the Iron Circle of Zerthimon) that divides the wills of the population of Shra'kt'lor and makes it vulnerable to a githyanki attack. This is part of the background of the game rather than something that happens in the present day; I think it's supposed to have happened a few decades ago, during one of the Nameless One's previous incarnations (his "pragmatic" incarnation). Planescape sourcebooks describe Shra'kt'lor as a city that exists in the present day, so there's something of a contradiction there. Interestingly, no third or fourth edition sourcebook has ever mentioned Shra'kt'lor.

But yeah, it basically depends on whether you want to treat Planescape: Torment as canon.
I treat everything created as canon. That doesn't mean that I would include all of it in a game that I run, but I won't claim something is non-canon if I don't like it.

Perhaps the Planescape: Torment idea that Shra'kt'lor was somehow destroyed implies a forward time jump. If 4e is using a Spellplagued Realms that is over 100 years beyond the 3e Realms, then why can't other campaign settings jump forward too? That should give time for the transformation of Shra'kt'lor into Zerthimon to be old news.
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Do you think that is a dwarf settlement in Nentir Vale? Is there any clue as to its location? And if it is in Nentir Vale, is it one of the "raided locations" that has been lifted from Greyhawk or Mystara?
It's Hammerfast in Nentir Vale, which is pretty much the dwarf community 4th edition always uses. It wasn't raided from another world. It could as easily be Rockhome on Mystara or the Principality of Ulek on Oerth, though, assuming you're wiling to accept the conceit of galeb duhr slaves of a hill giant clan kidnapping dwarves. I think it might make more sense to use sandmen and dao, though, in games that include those creatures. You could even fit the yak-men into it.
Thanks. That fits in well with The Plane Below being a "Nentir Vale version of Planescape".
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Same questions as Temple of Elemental Evil. Is there anything new with Wave or is it just a 4e restat? And is this connected to the Nentir Vale version of White Plume Mountain?
Well, artifact descriptions are much longer in 4e than they were in previous editions, detailing things like how the artifact reacts to varying PC actions. They connected Wave to the 4e goddess Melora instead of Poseidon, as the original module did.
Seems like this book might be good for users of the Temple of Elemental Evil, as well as users of Planescape.
ripvanwormer wrote:4th edition archons have absolutely nothing in common with the archons of previous editions. The WotC designers just decided that they didn't want a separate planar species for each alignment (partly because they included fewer alignments, and partly because their design philosophy was that it was bad to create monsters just to fill in slots), so they cut out celestial archons from the game and gave the name to a different monster. The same thing happened to eladrins. It's things like this that make the Forgotten Realms wiki a bit of a mess; the change in cosmology between 2e and 3e also messed the wiki up considerably.
Thanks. I think I'll ignore the 4e archons (or rename them).

I'm surprised they didn't just make another page on Forgotten Realms Wiki for the archons (and stick disambiguation links on the top of both pages). They have an entire namespace for Living Forgotten Realms and that works very well.
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Hmmm. I suppose that if elves can have drow, the djinns could have a subrace that was radically different from the main group. Is there anything about the original djinn that would prevent an alignment change?
Not really; genies are all about elements and magic, not alignment. You wouldn't really need a separate subrace of neutral djinn, any more than you need a separate subrace of humans to explain a human community with a nonstandard alignment. For that matter, you could easily have a community of chaotic neutral high elves without inventing a separate subrace to explain them. These seem more like aggrieved and scattered individuals than a community, anyway.
Fair enough. Another group then.
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Githzerai monks sound like they could be a fun addition to D&D. Is this something new?
No, it's part of Charles Stross's original concept of the race. You don't see it in 2nd edition because the monk class mostly didn't exist in 2nd edition (except in the form of the fighting monk cleric kit, which doesn't work because githzerai aren't supposed to have clerics in 2e, and the monk class included in The Scarlet Brotherhood accessory late, late in 2nd edition). Githzerai monks appeared in 3rd edition as soon as githzerai did, since the game had monks again. 2nd edition described githzerai as "monastic," but was unable to give them an appropriate character class to fit.
Sounds like I would find this stuff useful. In a 3rd Edition conversion of Planescape monks would be appropriate.
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Re: The Plane Below (4e) - Any good for Planescape?

Post by ripvanwormer »

Big Mac wrote:I guess I would take the word "Primordial" as being a term that originates from the Prime Material Plane. It either comes from Forgotten Realm's Prime Material plane, which is set over a hundred years after Planescape, or from Nentir Vale (which is new) or from Eberron (which is also fairly new from the point of view of Planescape). So this sort of thing could probably be handwaved away as a fairly new Prime Material theory about what elemental, quasielemental and paraelemental lords are. Basically some Clueless Prime decided to call the lords "Primordials" and the name stuck. At least, that is the hand-wave I would be tempted to go for.
It could be, yes.

I wouldn't have the name originate in Eberron, since 3rd edition Eberron never mentioned them and doesn't seem to have a place for them, particularly. 4th edition Eberron might have crammed them in somehow (I don't know much about 4th edition Eberron; maybe it retconned the Lords of Dust as primordials?). But it's not really an Eberron term. If the Lords of Dust are primordials, Eberronites call them the Lords of Dust.

In the Forgotten Realms, I think they're usually known as the "Elder Elemental Evils" or "the Dawn Titans," depending on which entities we're talking about. They may be known as primordials too in the post-Spellplague era. In Zakhara they're the Cold Gods of the Elements.

But yes, 'primordials' might be a fairly new term in Planescape, perhaps originating from the Nerath/Nentir Vale setting.
If an Al-Qadim source mentioned a temple of Imix, maybe it would make sense to set this in Zakhara. (Or if it is "generic" perhaps that means Hassiek defaults to Nentir Vale.)
You could probably fit it into an Al-Qadim campaign with some work, but note that the temple of Imix in Al-Qadim exists on another plane of existence (in the City of Brass); he's not an entity known to be worshiped in Zakhara itself. The genies worship a number of gods that Zakharan humans do not, since their perspective is multiplanar and they visit many different worlds.

Imix appears in Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil for the Greyhawk setting, and he's mentioned in a number of Planescape sources.
Perhaps the Planescape: Torment idea that Shra'kt'lor was somehow destroyed implies a forward time jump.
Some people have assumed that, but Torment explicitly takes place in the 127th year of Factol Hashkar's reign, the same date as the Planescape boxed set and Factol's Manifesto.
If 4e is using a Spellplagued Realms that is over 100 years beyond the 3e Realms, then why can't other campaign settings jump forward too?
They certainly can, though 4th edition was inconsistent on what the current official date in Sigil was. There was an article on Mercykillers in 4e-era Dragon Magazine (or was it Dungeon?) that definitely implied it was many decades in the future, but the detail on Sigil in the 4th edition Dungeon Master's Guide II featured many NPCs that would logically have been very old or dead if much time had passed.

The Scales of War adventure path took place a few decades after the events of 3rd edition's Incursion arc, which had been about an invasion of the githyanki into the Material Plane and featured the death of that race's Lich-Queen. So Incursion was a fair while after the 3e era, but nothing like 100 years.
Seems like this book might be good for users of the Temple of Elemental Evil, as well as users of Planescape.
Not really. I mean, the temple is mentioned, but it's not a significant amount of new material.

Note that Wave is from White Plume Mountain, not Temple of Elemental Evil.
I'm surprised they didn't just make another page on Forgotten Realms Wiki for the archons (and stick disambiguation links on the top of both pages).
That's exactly what they did. It's a messy solution, since it requires other pages to specify what kind of archon they're talking about. If the two kinds of monster had different names, it'd be much neater.

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Re: The Plane Below (4e) - Any good for Planescape?

Post by Big Mac »

I just wrote this on Facebook:
Big Mac on Facebook wrote:I just spotted The Plane Below: Secretes of the Elemental Chaos for £2.95 UKP at The Book-House at The Piazza! :)

And they told me I would *never* be able to pick up 4e books dirt cheap after WotC announced the end of the 4th Edition Era. :twisted:

Now all I need to do is work out how to retro-convert this thing to 3rd Edition rule and 2nd Edition's Great Wheel Cosmology. I feel a topic over at the Planescape forum at The Piazza coming on. ;)
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And then I remembered this topic, where Ripvanwormer has already given me a ton of advice. I'll have to reread all of this.
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