[Planescape] What is it about for you?

edited December 2011 in Story Games
Because of this discussion
http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?604832-Worst-system-setting-mismatch

It made me think about what parts of DnD did not fit for Planescape. And what would be need in a system to do it justice.

For me it is guild conflicts, planar travel, planar effects on travelers, dirty brutality, gods and godlike creatures running your life from the office down the street.

Comments

  • I think D&D is a perfect match for Planescape. It essentially took high-level D&D and spread it around to show what it would be like if various megapowered magical folks really bent their respective realities to their will, but still had to deal with each other.

    The main thing about Planescape is:

    * The philosophies of the organizations that are all shivving each other; and
    * The constant weirdness and magical effects around every corner.

    Really, the nearest thing to it is Mage.
  • edited December 2011
    Posted By: JDCorleyI think D&D is a perfect match for Planescape.
    When I think Planescape, tactical miniatures combat does not come to mind.
  • For me, Planescape was mostly the art, the manifestation of alignment as planes of existence, politics, adventuring inside the floating corpses of dead gods / multiple heavens / multiple hells, and how belief shapes reality.

    Belief shaping reality was our biggest let down.
    Posted By: JDCorleyReally, the nearest thing to it is Mage.
    Mage would be a good choice. I've been told (possibly incorrectly) Planescape was partially a reaction to the popularity of World of Darkness.
  • I do love the ideas behind Mage. The system left a lot to be desired, but the principles were great.
  • Posted By: thadrinePosted By: JDCorleyI think D&D is a perfect match for Planescape.
    When I think Planescape, tactical miniatures combat does not come to mind.
    It's not like AD&D2 exactly required miniatures. Nor, really, that the older editions of D&D combat system, even when used with miniatures, really constituted a miniatures game, anyway.

    Now, if you objected to combining Planescape and tactical combat at all, you'd have more of an argument.
  • Posted By: thadrineWhen I think Planescape, tactical miniatures combat does not come to mind.
    Oh, it definitely did for me. Strategy/tactics was a big part of Planescape. A fun combat system like D&D is a good idea for that game, because it lets you pit your tactica/strategic thinking against highly weird opponents with tons of strange powers. You weren't going to argue those guys out of their position, they were entrenched in it literally with the force of nature itself.

    And minis weren't really a huge part of D&D when Planescape was.
  • The ole Planescape Awesome-O-Friend thread

    An old blog post about playing Planescape via TSOY

    What I took away from Planescape is about changing reality through adventuring, changing the world in the Outer Realms with Sigil as the home base where adventurers have their city adventurers and tool up for the next excursion to whatever wack-ass planar destination is the next adventure-point.
  • Man I love me some Planescape! I have been thinking about this setting lately and have boiled it down to 2 core ideas for me:

    Adventure Exploration - the game is all about traveling the multiverse and having adventures in cool weird places like a citadel built on the back of a god, a floating volcano island filled with vikings, a plane of metal cubes covered with evil humanoids locked in infinite war, and so on. Bust out some of those great maps that came in the box set and immediately I start daydreaming about the weird places. D&D did a good job of handling this type of game.

    Belief - then there is this whole other experience where beliefs and philosophy shape the multiverse and you have the conflict between Good vs Evil and Chaos vs Law. You have the Factions fighting for their philosophy, the Powers pushing their divine agenda, the Blood War fighting over what Evil will be and so on. If you can get enough people to belief something you can change the planes and move them around, you can kill gods or bring them back.

    I think it is actually hard to give equal weight to both concepts at the same time and even harder to pick a system that supports both, in the end I think you end up with one taking precedence over the other in the way D&D focused in on exploration and used the philosophy as adventure color or excuse to explore something neat.

    And since there actually needs to be a 3rd thing (Rule of 3 and all), Planescape is also all about the color! A lot of that color is D&D inspired with the alignments, planar races and the Powers. But the rest is all of that glorious art.

    - Colin
  • Doors. You had this super awesome urban setting that was connected to everywhere. Everywhere can be anything. You can do some genre-bending shit in the Planescape setting. I loved the weird-ass diaspora.

    The Lady of Pain and the dabus being sort of the living embodiment of the city was also cool. You could do a lot with her and her motives and whatnot. They provided a distinct flavor to the setting.

    I also love the Dustmen, and more broadly the political chaos in the setting. The Dustmen just happen to be my favorite faction.

    I think D&D is fine for Planescape. I think D&D is also not a very helpful system, which is something we look for in modern games. It is very easy for D&D to be an absolute shitstorm. It's also the case that D&D is sort of the flagship RPG product, to use marketing-speak, and the impetus to conflate D&D with roleplaying in general is huge. I think that causes a lot of bad feelings towards D&D. I also think it's unrelated to the thread, but I wrote it, so there it is.
  • To me, it was getting to play D&D -- adventuring, looting, ass-kicking familiar ground -- in locations that went beyond strange into downright bizarre. It let you draw in crazy-ass surreal influences, and set up weird goals and situations around the differences between philosophical arguments rather than orcs and elves.

    Also, no orcs and elves.
  • These descriptions do not really cover what I loved about Planescape. Mainly because when I played it you did not ever fight that much, you couldn't, you are a human they are demons (and other super powerful creatures). We spent most of our time talking to people, making alliances, making preparations. All in an effort to just survive an extra five minutes when did have to fight. The big part of this was that Death was not final.
  • edited December 2011
    Seth, was the system engaged or was it more freeform play?

    No judgment at all was meant to be implied, either way.
  • Seth, we had a similar experience. Since in our games there was no such thing as balanced encounters, and you could run into a god in Planescape, we spent a lot of time talking and making deals. Mostly freeform play. Although when we did have combat, it was serious fun because Planescape makes for amazing set pieces. Not to mention the teleporting doors are great for combat!
  • edited December 2011
    Planescape was the only D&D game that actually had religion in it. Not, "I worship the god of eating pork pies so I eat a lot of pork pies," but factions based on people's theories of how the universe works and our place in it. I think the whole shifting the universe through what you believe thing is overstated. It wasn't like Mage where the universe twisted around an individual's paradigm, but rather that in order to exist and survive without going mad or being consumed by such a huge, insane, sprawling universe you had to try to make sense of it. And it was those beliefs that gave you power, not the other way around.

    Apart from that, I think what grabbed me about Planescape are the same things as you, Thadrine.
  • Thadrine's idea of Planescape adventures are what I meant by "with Sigil as the home base where adventurers have their city adventurers "
  • edited December 2011
    Feeling out of your league, and walking through places you know no mortal should was the biggest part. While I love the visuals of it Planescape immensely I did not know they existed at the time of playing it, our GM had no concept of "Art" what-so-ever, but was very good at playing everyone "In character" with voices and all.
  • For us, it was "FINALLY feeling out of your league". We tended to play Planescape with 5-9th level characters to start, as I think most of the adventures were set for that level of play.
  • edited December 2011
    Yes! Good call.

    This stuff about the power of beliefs - I never really got that from Planescape. It seemed to be about the desperate need to believe. Your belief causes gods to live or die, but only because they're not truly divine beings. They're parasites. Your creator isn't the ultimate being, he's one of hundreds, maybe thousands of creatures just like him. In the face of that, what do you believe in now?

    Some planes may shift based on what you believe and think, but the majority change the universe on a scale so massive you are beyond insignicant. Demons and devils march to war on a level that makes every battle on your home planet seem like a kid shoving another kid into the mud. Planes exist with societies full of creatures that would kill you just by standing next to you.

    Planescape is about heroics in the face of insignificance.
  • Posted By: Bret GillanYes! Good call.

    This stuff about the power of beliefs - I never really got that from Planescape. It seemed to be about thedesperate need to believe. Your belief causes gods to live or die, but only because they're not truly divine beings. They're parasites. Your creator isn't the ultimate being, he's one of hundreds, maybe thousands of creatures just like him. In the face of that, what do you believe in now?

    Some planes may shift based on what you believe and think, but the majority change the universe on a scale so massive you are beyond insignicant. Demons and devils march to war on a level that makes every battle on your home planet seem like a kid shoving another kid into the mud. Planes exist with societies full of creatures that would kill you just by standing next to you.

    Planescape is about heroics in the face of insignificance.
    I always really liked that despite all of this that your belief in something still mattered on some level. Join a faction and your belief gives you an edge. Line yourself up with the belief of a plane and things go smoother for you. Belief wasn't some abstract faith thing anymore, it was the mechanics of reality that the planes ran on. Sure your individual belief may be a drop in the bucket, but it was concrete and worth dying or killing over.

    Or at least that is always what I always wanted out of the setting.

    I always wanted to run a game set entirely in one of the gatetowns that is about to be sucked out of the Outlands and into the plane it borders with the players all being residents working to keep the town or push it over the edge. Something about the large cosmic scale being focused neatly on your home really appeals and hits a lot of the belief oriented awesome I dig.

    - Colin
  • Planescape, as my favorite D&D setting, helped solidify what I wanted out of a rpg. It was when, playing a LN Mercykiller charged with bodyguarding a queen on Arborea, the queen was poisoned, and I realized that my Mercykiller wouldn't care about finding the antidote, she'd care about bringing the assassin to justice. And if the queen died, then the assassin would have more to answer for.

    My DM then suggested that I make a different character, since the party was going (being led) to find the antidote.

    From then on, I wanted to play games where character/player choice mattered and was encouraged by the DM/play/system.

    ---

    I just thought of a possible DitV hack, where instead of playing a single character, you play a faction. Relationship dice actually represent NPC agents of your faction. Fallout would be d4 (talking), d6 (magic?), d8 (fighting), and d10 (belief). The fictional space would be Sigil plus the Great Wheel. Conflicts would range from "do I gain political control over Sigil" to "I wage war on Acheron".
  • edited December 2011
    I spent a good amount of time this past year re-reading the original Planescape boxed set (and ran a few games using Storming the Wizard's Tower), so this topic is right in my wheelhouse lately.

    Two things!

    1. D&D is a great game, but - to me - it's a bad fit for Planescape. Planescape is about exploring bizarre places, talking to demons and wizards and other super-powerful beings, intrigue (those super powerful beings have murky agendas) and chase scenes. Oh, and figuring stuff out. And maybe a little fighting.

    But D&D's rules are only really fun for fighting, and are either nonexistent or lame for all that other stuff.

    2. The factions *seem* super cool, and made my high-school brain spin around. But I have never been able to use them in a Planescape game and have them be anything but window dressing.
  • edited December 2011
    It made me think about what parts of DnD did not fit for Planescape. And what would be need in a system to do it justice.
    Burning Planes!

    * Circles so you can meet interesting people /entities.
    * Beliefs so you can modify reality
    * Affiliations so you can belong to four contradictory factions.
    * Reputations so you can trade on your badassery.
    * FIGHT so that the slaad larvae can get inside your defense.

    It would need hella Lifepaths I think though.
  • I think it might be a better fit for the "town suddenly becoming a gate-dimension" campaign listed above. Then you can just use the "home dimension"'s Lifepath, with maybe one step at the end to connect people to shit in Sigil.
  • Philosophers with clubs.
    Incredible, vast, magical vistas.
    Your politics will literally move nations. Perhaps to Baator.
    Rubbing shoulders with angels, demons, genies, and the like in Sigil... and watching your back the second you step out the door.
    Wait. Oh no. Stop. Ok guys, what did we have or do that was the gate key, and why isn't it working in the reverse direction?
    You can start on the outer planes at 1st level.
    When the Lady of Pain walks by everyone suddenly shuts up and looks busy.
    Party diversity means that at least one of you is working with the "bad guy" faction this week.

    I loved the factions in general.
    I also liked the slang when it was kept low-key; it could easily get out of hand.
  • Posted By: johnzo
    Burning Planes!
    I would purchase or download this, for serious.
  • Posted By: johnzoIt made me think about what parts of DnD did not fit for Planescape. And what would be need in a system to do it justice.
    Burning Planes!

    * Circles so you can meet interesting people /entities.
    * Beliefs so you can modify reality
    * Affiliations so you can belong to four contradictory factions.
    * Reputations so you can trade on your badassery.
    * FIGHT so that the slaad larvae can get inside your defense.

    It would need hella Lifepaths I think though.

    I actually did this last year, with marginal success. There were just so many parts in a Planescape setting that we were not ready to deal with inside of the BW game system. Burning Wheel is just a hard game to do anything other than a BW style game with.

    I am currently going to be starting one up with Smallville next week.
  • Monster Burner is what I'd use if someone wanted something that nutty and we were playing BW.
  • I was first introduced to Planescape, through the awesome computer game Planescape: Torment. My first brush has colored my perceptions of the setting. Even after I picked up the box set, the more philospher's with clubs approach has colored my opinion. I've never liked traditional D&D beyond the dungeon crawl, and bushwacking elements. Anytime a game would expand beyond these, meh. For me, PLanescape is about an individual beliefs interacting with and changing a grander cosmology. Screw tactical considerations and game balance! That doesn't mean shit!

    I would use HeroQuest/HeroWars as my basis. It'd allow enough tactics, and D&D-isms which are inevitable, but who the character is has mechanical weight. Also I'd be able to handle Factions as communities and such (Factions are awesome!). It would allow for the more mythic, philosophical adventure without having to devolve into dungeon crawls in crazier places.
  • Oh, I forgot to mention: I've used Everway to run Planescape quite a few times, and liked the results. A tailored deck of cards (maybe one for each plane, though not every layer) would be sweet.
  • In reading this thread, I have this crazy idea Planescape might work really well with Anima Prime.
  • I'd love for Wizards to release a Planescape box + a couple expansions a la the new Gamma World.

    I would also love for someone to do all the burning work for me so I can play in a Planescape BW game.
  • This thread got me all excited about the Planescape setting. My only previous exposure being the computer game 10+ years ago. So, I bought the original box set on ebay and re-bought the computer game on GoG.com (on sale for five bucks till 1/2/12 and all the text in the game is roughly equivalent to the first 6 Harry Potter books). I can't wait to read the box set. Thanks for reigniting my interest.
  • Planescape using Burning Wheel is pretty straight forward I think. Most things map over to BW pretty well.

    Thoughts
    Largely you need to focus on the world burner questions to narrow down what it is you are going to be doing. Most of the BW Planescape campaigns stall out here

    If you have tieflings or genasi as PCs then slap a few common racial traits and then follow the mannish paths.

    If you have something really weird just use the Monster Burner for a one off and then follow the mannish paths

    Factions become Affiliations


    Unless you are talking about a mini supplement for a Planescape-type setting which is a whole 'nuther thing.

    ara
  • Has anyone yet mentioned that setting information for Sigil is included in the 4th Edition DMG 2? I don't know what kind of Planescapish info is in the 4E Manual of the Planes, haven't read it yet.
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