Mars, Venus and Beyond

If you have read Blood & Treasure Second Edition, you might already know that I had a sample planar system that resembles the old geocentric model of the universe combined with Gygax’s idea of the outer and inner planes. At some point, I’m going to expand on these ideas and write a book called The Outre’ Dark – sort of my version of the Manual of the Planes.

To that end, I’ve already written an article in NOD on the planet Pluto, which stands in for the negative energy plane in Nod’s cosmos. This week, I’ve been playing with maps of Mars and Venus (or Martis and Veneris) for the Nod setting, and thought I’d show them off here, along with a few notes on the settings.


In the Nod cosmology, Mars is a planet of Neutrality, over which the forces of Lawful Neutrality and Chaotic Neutrality fight a never-ending war.

  • The humanoid Martians come in a multitude of colors, from purple to amber to burnt sienna (and even some maroons living below the surface). They spawn via spores and do not nurse their young. They may have been engineered by a Zetan civilization that destroyed the plane with atomic weaponry before leaving Martis for Nod, where they were involved in founding the Nabu civilization (destroyed in a similar cataclysm).
  • They are joined on Martis by green mutants in the wastelands and bat people in the mountains.
  • The purple Martians are the most civilized (LN). They dwell in hive cities connected by canals.
  • The amber Martians dwell in the north, and might be considered pragmatic Neutrals.
  • The burnt sienna Martians are nomads (and former seafarers).
  • Atop Olympus Mons there is a monastery of weird Zen Neutral monks.
  • Martians wear little armor (or clothing) and arm themselves with swords, whip-swords, daggers, darts, jezzails and pistols.
  • The Martians also use flying ships (skyremes) levitated by weird rays.
  • There is a plant in the Martian deserts that oozes plastic nodules, which the Martians melt down and use to make a variety of objects.
  • The moons of Martis (those little specs underneath the planet) are home to ghouls, who launch themselves into space when astral ships approach too close.


Veneris is the positive energy plane in Nod’s cosmos. I mixed the idea of positive energy = life with the old ideas of Venus as a jungle world. The map is still in the “rough draft” stage. It is partly inspired by this post at Malevolent and Benign.

  • Humanoid Venusians come in two varieties – the cyan-skinned cave dwellers and the jade-skinned tree dwellers. They are beset by many evils on the planet, for it is populated by numerous beastmen.
  • Venus has very little technology, and all of it in the hands of the gold amazons, who dwell in flying cities. Their sons, the myrmidons, are seafarers and defenders of humanity.
  • Most of the peoples of Veneris have neo-stone age technology, maybe some in the chalcolithic age – giant stone cities, simple weapons, etc. Very Flintstones.
  • There are dinosaurs (though not of the earthly varieties) and other prehistoric animals.
  • Beneath the surface of Veneris is a core of positive energy, which erupts from time to time from volcanoes.
  • The plant life of Veneris is a riot of color. It grows very quickly – a trail cut with machetes would disappear in mere minutes.
  • There are massive oozes on the planet that rise from the seas and cause ecological havoc.
  • The mountains are made of solid gemstone.


I’m adding this one after the fact, having just finished the map. I’m picturing a world almost devoid of plant life with a thin atmosphere where all the real action is under the surface, where the powerful elementals dwell. On the surface, where adventurers are likely to spend their time, there are cities of crystal people who dominate their fellows by dominating the mineral springs they must bathe in to survive, and plundering metallic men who serve the greedy shaitan. I’m using the old idea that Mercury always had one side facing the Sun and the other in perpetual darkness – in this case, the cities of Parahelios and Nyx mark those spots.


Dimensional String Theory

Via Wikipedia

Long-time fantasy gamers get the idea of “planes”. Each plane is its own reality, and it connects in some fashion with other planes, and they’re mostly just where high level characters go to kill things and steal their stuff. Simple enough.

How about we swap out planes for strings.

[Disclaimer – I don’t know anything about actual string theory. I’m just stealing a term because it sounds cool and kind of fits this conception of planes and dimensions in fantasy games]

No, the elemental plane of fire won’t look like a tightrope – it will still be an endless reality of fire and efreet. But it will functionally be a string, as will all the other planes. Dozens of planes, as strings, crisscrossing the multiverse and, at certain points, touching.

At a planar nexus, the reality of two planes (or more) are combined, forming a little pocket dimension (perhaps a planet) that combines the aspects of the planes that are connected. So you might have a plane that combines Elemental Fire with Chaotic Good, or a plane that combines Shadow with Water. Maybe the Astral Plane is where all these strings are located – and maybe when traversing that plane you can accidentally hit a string and find yourself in another plane. The Ethereal is just the blurry edges of the vibrating Material Plane, and can be a passage to these “nexus points” that interact with the Material Plane.

Maybe the Material Plane is just a nexus point between all the different planes of reality?

Times, Not Planes

This morning, I spent a few moments reading THIS POST. Go on. Click it. Don’t be afraid.

This is the multiverse. It’s a straight line and the Prime Material is Now. Have fun!

It’s a nice little exploration into time, and it got me thinking.

In the traditional D&D cosmos, we have a Material Plane (both Prime and Alternate, of course), Elemental Planes, Astral Planes, etc. While reading the above linked post, the bit about the hell hole Earth used to be – asteroids, volcanoes, magma and such – got me thinking about the Elemental Plane of Fire. I guess really it sounds more like the Para-Elemental (or is it Quasi-Elemental? Dang you Gygax!) Plane of Magma. Either way, it made me think about a system whereby there are no alternate planes, just alternate times.

Plane shifting is actually time shifting, and everyone who is anyone throughout the history of the cosmos wants to get in on the here and now (i.e. the current campaign you’re running) because it’s super bitchin’ and has stuff like assassins, manticores, coffee, magic swords and polymorph self.

So those fire (and magma, and lava and whatever) elementals do not come from the Plane of Fire, they come from many millions of years ago, representing the dominant life forms on Planet X (or whatever you choose to call the place where fighters slay dragons and thieves remove traps in your campaign) when it was just a ball of hot rock beset by asteroids and volcanoes. Water elementals and their ilk come from a more recent past, when the planet was covered by oceans and the only annoying material lifeforms they had to contend with were microbes (ah, the good old days).  When a magic-user conjures them, he is plucking them from their own time and dropping them against their will into the here and now.

Metron or Planetar?

With this system, you replace the idea of demons/devils/angels/demodands/daemons (need I go on) with weird alien creatures from the distant past and distant future. Entities of Pure Chaos (i.e. the slaad) hail from that rainbow period before the Big Bang. The entities of Pure Law dwell at the end of the universe, when heat is gone and there is no change or movement. What dwells in the periods between is up to you. Maybe demons come from the period just after the Big Bang. Maybe solars/planetars/devas are the enlightened future of humanity, their powers derived from genetic manipulation and nanobots rather than magic as magic-users understand it. Just dress them up like the super-advanced aliens from Star Trek and go to town (“Ah, you primitive humans are so violent. To show our enlightened superiority to you, we will pit you against each other in a fight to the death rather than sit down and explain things to you because we’re so amazingly advanced.” Never made sense to me. The whole “humans are ultra-violent and deadly” thing seems a little off as well, when you consider our species has gone from a population of 2 to 7,000,000,000 …). Heck, just gating in a mecha to fight an air elemental (that hails from the time of the gas cloud that precedes the creation of the Solar System, of course) could make the whole concept worth while.

It could make for an interesting variation for your campaign. If you keep the secret of the universe from your players (and they don’t read this post) it might be enjoyable for them to slowly piece it all together and, if they become high enough level, to try to bend the system to their advantage. It also gives entities from the recent future/past a reason to be messing with their recent past/future, as they seek to bend the system to their own advantage, with the hapless PC’s caught in the middle.

Something to consider.

Dragon by Dragon – July 1977 (8)

Vincent Price?

And so we come to #8, which kicks off with an article on The Planes from Gary Gygax, subtitled “The Concepts of Spatial, Temporal and Physical Relations in D&D”. I guess this has to be considered a pretty important article, as it sets up the famous “Wheel” cosmology that will come to be a basis of AD&D (both editions) and achieve its full flowering in the Planescape setting. I personally don’t use it these days, but I think you have to admit it was a clever way of setting up a cosmos and finding a place for all the various gods and goddesses.

Tony Watson now offers a more practical article: The Development of Towns in D&D. The advice in the article is quite sound, from what I can tell. I like his advice for inns and their patrons, to whit:

Falgrave’s – where non-humans frequent and and stay when in town. Falgrave is a dwarf himself and up on non-human gossip. 3-18 patrons, 2/3 of which shall be non-human and ½ will be warriors; the rest will be townspeople, nonhumans of other classes. 1-4 will be non-human wayfarers or merchants.

Simple and seems like it would work well. For populating the town, he suggests rolling up dozens of characters and then assigning them, based on their ability scores, to different jobs … or you could just fake it. He divides them into Warriors, Magic-Users, Clerics, Townspeople and Specialists (referring to the “myriad of new characters types that have lately appeared”, which I assume means new classes from The Dragon). He suggests rolling 3d4 for the ability scores of the townspeople or 2d6 for women rolling Str and Con (he apologizes to liberated women reading the article) and children rolling scores. Watson then provides a small chart for determining alignment, age, personality, loyalty, initiative and level. Initiative, in this case, does not mean combat initiative order, but how bright and energetic an NPC is.

Up next is a story by Harry O. Fischer: The Finzer Family – A Tale of Modern Magic.

There have also been wicked magicians, but they only last a short time and are soon taken care of by the public or by other magicians. The evil ones are generally weak and unsuccessful people with little powerful magic. This is fortunate for all of us. Once in a while a powerful and good magician may go mad and do considerable damage before he is controlled or eliminated, but these cases are very rare. So any magicians you are likely to meet or to know, or to perhaps discover, are almost sure to be honorable, peaceful, and wise people — like the Finzers . . .

No offense, but this one went on so long I got bored skipping through it.

Next we have a sneak preview of Introduction to: Gamma World. It begins:

Man, from Australopithecus africanus and homo erectus erectus to homo sapiens recens, has existed on earth for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of years. During this time, one skill, one particular talent has set him apart from every other creature — his ability to conceive and create tools. Indeed, man has been defined as “the toolmaking animal.”

Next to an ad for Archive Miniatures (that includes pictures of a Wind Child, Dragon Newts and Dracula & Vampire Women) is an article by Rob Kuntz on gems and jewelry that is essentially a collection of useful tables for determining first the carats of the gem, then the value and then the type based on the value. My only disagreement is that it uses gems like “idicolite” and “tanzanite” that just don’t seem very romantic.

Brian Blume asks, So You Want Realism in D&D? It’s a bit of a jab at people that have written to complain about the lack of … well, you know.

The next page shows off several miniatures, including Rhino Riders from Dragontooth Miniatures. I’ve admitted before that I’m a sucker for fantasy characters riding on inappropriate mounts, so this one is right up my alley. I found a picture online …

Given the size of the rider compared to the rhino, it almost has to be a giant of some sort.

Featured Creature this time presents a kick-ass piece of art by Erol Otus and asks people to name it and give it some stats. Let’s do the same thing here in the comments!

James Ward provides Still More Additions to MA, a list of new monsters that includes Jawed Lilly Pads (awesome), radiation vines, poison thorn grass, tigeroids, bulleroids (no hemorrhoids), rabners, gygarants and sotherlan.

And so ends issue #8! Not bad, but the one story was waaaaaay too long (and is only part 1!!!). What relevant stuff was there was pretty decent.

A Fantasy Cosmos

While writing (or, to some degree, copy/pasting from the SRD) Blood & Treasure the other day, I finally came to the section on the planes. I decided, for a sample cosmos (and I do mean sample – there is no official cosmology for Blood & Treasure), to present something like the one I use for NOD. I thought folks might like to see it, but note – it lacks a mention of Hell or the Firmament at the moment.


This cosmology of planes is inspired by the old Ptolomaic view of the universe, i.e. The Earth at the center of the universe surrounded by “crystalline spheres” containing the different planets and beyond them the Empyrean Heaven of God and the angels. At the center of Earth lies Hell, essentially a plane within a plane.

In this conception, the Ethereal Plane extends beyond Earth to the Moon, but no further. The Astral Plane extends throughout the entire universe, to the borders of the Empyrean Heaven.
All of the planes (i.e. planets) in this cosmology other than the Empyrean Heaven are self-contained spheres. Heaven is infinite.

Earth and the Moon are the Material Plane, the center of the universe. The Moon differs from Earth only in that it is mildly-chaotic. They define what is considered normal. The Material Plane has the following traits:

• Normal gravity.

• Normal Time

• Alterable morphic.

• No Elemental or Energy Traits (specific locations may have these traits, however)

• Mildly neutral-aligned (mildly chaos-aligned for the Moon).

• Normal magic.

The Ethereal Plane is coexistent with the Material Plane and the plane of Luna. The Material Plane itself is visible from the Ethereal Plane, but it appears muted and indistinct, its colors blurring into each other and its edges turning fuzzy.

While it is possible to see into the Material Plane from the Ethereal Plane, the Ethereal Plane is usually invisible to those on the Material Plane. Normally, creatures on the Ethereal Plane cannot attack creatures on the Material Plane, and vice versa. A traveler on the Ethereal Plane is invisible, incorporeal, and silent to someone on the Material Plane.

The Ethereal Plane is mostly empty of structures and impediments. However, the plane has its own inhabitants. Some of these are other ethereal travelers, but the ghosts found here pose a particular peril to those who walk the fog.
It has the following traits.

• No gravity.

• Alterable morphic. The plane contains little to alter, however.

• Mildly neutral-aligned.

• Normal magic. Spells function normally on the Ethereal Plane, though they do not cross into the Material Plane. The only exceptions are spells and spell-like abilities that have the force descriptor and abjuration spells that affect ethereal beings. Spellcasters on the Material Plane must have some way to detect foes on the Ethereal Plane before targeting them with force-based spells, of course. While it’s possible to hit ethereal enemies with a force spell cast on the Material Plane, the reverse isn’t possible. No magical attacks cross from the Ethereal Plane to the Material Plane, including force attacks.

The Plane of Shadow is a dimly lit dimension that is both coterminous to and coexistent with the Material Plane. It overlaps the Material Plane much as the Ethereal Plane does, so a planar traveler can use the Plane of Shadow to cover great distances quickly.

The Plane of Shadow is also coterminous to other planes. With the right spell, a character can use the Plane of Shadow to visit other realities.

The Plane of Shadow is a world of black and white; color itself has been bleached from the environment. It is otherwise appears similar to the Material Plane.

Despite the lack of light sources, various plants, animals, and humanoids call the Plane of Shadow home.

The Plane of Shadow is magically morphic, and parts continually flow onto other planes. As a result, creating a precise map of the plane is next to impossible, despite the presence of landmarks.

The Plane of Shadow has the following traits.

• Magically morphic. Certain spells modify the base material of the Plane of Shadow. The utility and power of these spells within the Plane of Shadow make them particularly useful for explorers and natives alike.

• Mildly neutral-aligned.

• Enhanced magic. Spells of shadow are enhanced on the Plane of Shadow. Such spells are cast as though they were prepared with the Maximize Spell feat. Shadow conjuration and shadow evocation spells are 30% as powerful as the conjurations and evocations they mimic (as opposed to 20%). Greater shadow conjuration and greater shadow evocation are 70% as powerful (not 60%), and a shades spell conjures at 90% of the power of the original (not 80%).

• Impeded magic. Spells that use or generate light or fire may fizzle when cast on the Plane of Shadow. Spells that produce light are less effective in general, because all light sources have their ranges halved here. Despite the dark nature of the Plane of Shadow, spells that produce, use, or manipulate darkness are unaffected by the plane.

The Astral Plane is the space between the planes. When a character moves through an interplanar portal or projects her spirit to a different plane of existence, she travels through the Astral Plane. Spells that allow instantaneous movement across a plane briefly touch the Astral Plane.

The Astral Plane is a great, endless sphere of clear silvery sky, both above and below. Occasional bits of solid matter can be found here, but most of the Astral Plane is an endless, open domain. Both planar travelers and refugees from other planes call the Astral Plane home.

The Astral Plane has the following traits.

• Subjective directional gravity.

• Timeless. Age, hunger, thirst, poison, and natural healing don’t function in the Astral Plane, though they resume functioning when the traveler leaves the Astral Plane.

• Mildly neutral-aligned.

• Enhanced magic. All spells and spell-like abilities used within the Astral Plane may be employed as if they were improved by the Quicken Spell feat. Already quickened spells and spell-like abilities are unaffected, as are spells from magic items. Spells so quickened are still prepared and cast at their unmodified level. As with the Quicken Spell feat, only one quickened spell can be cast per round.

Mercury is a solid sphere of rock and metal burrowed through by a multitude if tunnels and caverns. An unwary and unprepared traveler to Mercury may find himself entombed within this vast solidity of material and have his life crushed into nothingness, his powdered remains a warning to any foolish enough to follow.

Despite its solid, unyielding nature, Mercury is varied in its consistency, ranging from soft soil to veins of heavier and more valuable metal.

Mercury has the following traits.

• Earth-dominant.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use, manipulate, or create earth or stone are both empowered and extended (as if the Empower Spell and Extend Spell metamagic feats had been used on them). Spells and spell-like abilities that are already empowered or extended are unaffected by this benefit.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use or create air (including spells that summon air elementals or outsiders with the air subtype) are impeded.

Venus is a lush world of brilliant, almost blinding color and overgrown vegetation and animals. Some area of the plane are so fertile that entering them can actually cause a person to explode with life.

Venus has the following traits.

• Normal gravity.

• Minor positive-dominant. Some regions of the plane have the major positive-dominant trait instead, and those islands may be inhabited by various divinities of fertility and life.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use positive energy, including cure spells, are maximized (as if the Maximize Spell metamagic feat had been used on them). Spells and spell-like abilities that are already maximized are unaffected by this benefit. Class abilities that use positive energy, such as turning and destroying undead, gain a +10 bonus on the roll to determine Hit Dice affected.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use negative energy (including inflict spells) are impeded.

Mars is an earth-like plane dedicated to neutrality in the war between Law and Chaos. It is a small sphere and taken up by red, sandstone hills, shallow, salty seas, lowlands of red, tuberous plants watered by vast canals and gleaming, ancient cities slowly falling into ruin. The various people of Mars are warriors who glory in combat.

Mars has the following traits.

• Light gravity.

• Strongly neutral-aligned. Lawfuls and chaotic suffer a -2 penalty to reaction checks and to intelligence- and wisdom-based checks.

• Limited magic. The following spells operate normally on Mars: Detect thoughts (ESP), xxx. All other spells fail to operate here.

• Flowing time. Time passes more quickly on Mars than the Material Plane. A year spent on Mars corresponds to a day on the Material Plane.

Everything is alight on the Sun. The ground is nothing more than great, evershifting plates of compressed flame. The air ripples with the heat of continual firestorms, and the most common liquid is magma, not water. The oceans are made of liquid flame, and the mountains ooze with molten lava. Fire survives here without need for fuel or air, but flammables brought onto the plane are consumed readily.

The Sun has the following traits.

• Fire-dominant.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities with the fire descriptor are both maximized and enlarged (as if the Maximize Spell and Enlarge Spell had been used on them). Spells and spell-like abilities that are already maximized or enlarged are unaffected by this benefit.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use or create water (including spells that summon water elementals or outsiders with the water subtype) are impeded.

Jupiter is a giant spheric plane of air. At the heart of Jupiter there is a core of iron and adamantine, and there are other bits of solid ground and water vapor floating amid the endless, roiling skies of Jupiter.

Jupiter is the home of all manner of airborne creatures. Indeed, flying creatures find themselves at a great advantage on this plane. While travelers without flight can survive easily here, they are at a disadvantage.

Jupiter has the following traits.

• Subjective directional gravity. Inhabitants of the plane determine their own “down” direction. Objects not under the motive force of others do not move.

• Air-dominant.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use, manipulate, or create air are both empowered and enlarged (as if the Empower Spell and Enlarge Spell metamagic feats had been used on them).

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use or create earth (including spells that summon earth elementals or earth-based outsiders) are impeded.

Saturn is a plane infused with chaos, and therefore quite alien to most folk of the Material Plane. It is covered by all manner of fascinating land-scapes, including ashen plains cut by streams of mercury, swamps of sentient ooze, thickets of mineral plants like sheaves of swords and towering mountains of vapor, all under a greenish-black sky illuminated by the plane’s wondrous rings from which ioun stones are plucked.

Saturn has the following traits:

• Strongly chaos-aligned. Lawfuls suffer a -2 penalty to reaction checks and to intelligence- and wisdom-based checks.

• Wild magic.

Neptune is a sea without a floor or a surface; an entirely fluid sphere lit by a diffuse glow. It is one of the more hospitable of the Inner Planes once a traveler gets past the problem of breathing.

The eternal oceans of this plane vary between ice cold and boiling hot, between saline and fresh. They are perpetually in motion, wracked by currents and tides. The plane’s permanent settlements form around bits of flotsam and jetsam suspended within this endless liquid. These settlements drift on the tides of the plane of Neptune.

Neptune has the following traits.

• Subjective directional gravity. The gravity here works similar to that of the Elemental Plane of Air. But sinking or rising on the Elemental Plane of Water is slower (and less dangerous) than on the Elemental Plane of Air.

• Water-dominant.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use or create water are both extended and enlarged (as if the Extend Spell and Enlarge Spell metamagic feats had been used on them). Spells and spell-like abilities that are already extended or enlarged are unaffected by this benefit.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities with the fire descriptor are impeded.

Uranus is the opposite of Saturn, a plane of law and perfection. Uranus has the same landscapes as the Material Plane, but they are each perfect and slightly angular, often repetitious, as though made by the will of a single artist. The skies and landscapes of Uranus all carry a metallic hue – warm coppers, brilliant silvers and dazzling golds.
Uranus has the following traits:

• Strongly law-aligned. Chaotics suffer a -2 penalty to reaction checks and to intelligence- and wisdom-based checks.

• Static. Uranus cannot be altered by visitors.

• Timeless. Time does not flow on Uranus.

To an observer, there’s little to see on Pluto. It is a dark, empty place, an eternal pit where a traveler can fall until the plane itself steals away all light and life. Pluto is the most hostile of the planets, and the most uncaring and intolerant of life. Only creatures immune to its life-draining energies can survive there.

Pluto has the following traits.

• Subjective directional gravity.

• Major negative-dominant. Some areas within the plane have only the minor negative-dominant trait, and these islands tend to be inhabited.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use negative energy are maximized. Spells and spell-like abilities that are already maximized are unaffected by this benefit. Class abilities that use negative energy, such as rebuking and controlling undead, gain a +10 bonus on the roll.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use positive energy, including cure spells, are impeded. Characters on this plane take a –10 penalty on Fortitude saving throws made to regain lost levels from a life drain attack.

Mu-Pan – Clockwork Monastery

Another one from Mu-Pan. You’ll notice I haven’t done the treasure yet. I use an excel document to randomize treasure. The tables are based on those from Swords and Wizardry, and yesterday I was too lazy to open it up and generate the goods, mostly because Open Office doesn’t handle it as well as excel does and I usually work on my laptop. I know – who cares. Anyhow …

0718. A cliffside monastery in this hex was abandoned about 30 years ago when the monks were masacred in an attack by oni-aka goblins. Twenty of the goblins still dwell in the place, though they avoid the shrine. The goblins are led by Iki-Urha, an ogre with rust-colored, heavily creased skin and a bulbous nose.

The monastery shrine was dedicated to the concept of Law. The rear wall of the shrine, which measures 15 feet by 15 feet, is covered with bronze clockworks that approximate the movements of the cosmos – at least those of Nod and the planets Luna, Mercurii, Veneris, Martis and the Solar Sphere. The shrine is protected by four giant, clockwork owls perched on bronze bars that run the length of the shrine.

The goblins and ogre have desecrated the remainder of the monastery. The ogre has a single prisoner, a musician named Zeaho. Zeaho is the last survivor of a party of adventurers that sought out the monastery under the direction of their lawful sohei. Zeaho is a hengeyokai that can assume the form of a hare.

The ogres and oni-aka have a treasure of XXX in a large, locked chest.

| Oni-Aka (20): HD 1; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); Move 9; Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Resistance to fire (50%).

| Clockwork Owls (4): HD 4+1 (19, 15, 14, 9 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 talons (1d6), bite (1d6+1); Move 6 (F30); Save 13; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Immune to sleep and charm, resistance to cold and fire (50%).

| Zeaho, Hengeyokai Bujin Lvl 4: HP 14 [22]; AC 9 [10]; Save 13 (12 vs death & poison); CL/XP 4/120; Special: Follow through. Pipe (a lute).

| Iki-Urha, Ogre: HD 4+1 (17 hp); AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 tetsubo (1d6+3); Move 9; Save 13; CL/XP 4/120. Tetsubo, nine-ring broadsword (belonged to Zeaho).

Image of bakeneko and tanuki by GENZOMAN at DeviantArt. Much to see in his gallery.

Google-Sourcing the Planes

Those who know the real me know that I work as a commercial real estate researcher in fabulous Las Vegas. A good portion of my job involves maintaining a database of c. 5000 property records and c. 7000 availability records – and that means hours of data entry. If you’re not familiar with the concept of data entry, allow me to assure you that it can be just as boring as it sounds. So, every hour or so I poke my head above the waves of data and look around – sometimes that means Facebook, sometimes checking email, and sometimes doing a random search in Google. Thus – today’s post …

So, I randomly decide to do an image search today for “Paradise”. Well, not entirely randomly – somebody was playing Van Halen in a nearby cubicle. Anyhow – it struck me that it might be fun to see how the planes of the Great Wheel look via Google image searches.

We’ll start our tour of the planes on the Astral Plane. Google’s Astral Plane is bluish white it seems – some areas lighter, others darker. I’m picturing symbols floating about, each standing for something of COSMIC IMPORTANCE and thus generally ignored by the folks that actually walk the planes – killers of things and takers of stuff.

Paradise to modern humans is a tropical island – warm sun, white sands, crystal clear waters. The last thing it needs are adventurers messing everything up. Should therefore be the first place on any chaotic’s itinerary.

If Google is to be believed, Elysium is a resort for the gods. I’m seeing a virtual paradise surrounded by a desert of red sands patrolled by robots and tanks. In the middle there’s a deific resort hotel where all the beautiful people of the planes come to be seen (and presumably robbed by the likes of Loki and Raven).

The Happy Hunting Grounds are enlivened by introducing of race cars, giant see-through hippos and rousing games of cricket. Apparently the HHG is the outer plane’s answer to a sport’s park/recreation center. Buffalo hunting, golf, racing – a place for the gods to stretch their legs and get a little exercise.

If you want to search for Olympus, search for Mount Olympus – otherwise you get cameras. So we have a lofty peak populated by half naked god-models with very human appetites for sex and power. The gods of Gladsheim will go out and romp with you, while the gods of Olympus will totally use you for their amusement. Adventurers beware – they’re laughing at you, not with you.

Let’s be honest – it’s Asgard. Gladsheim is Asgard. An image search for Asgard gives you Kirby  vikings, heroic landscapes and lofty buildings. I see Gladsheim as being the most hexcrawl worthy of the planes – a place for old adventurers to go and hang out with the gods and kick around the godly fjords and mountains and forests looking for godly things to kill that one may acquire their godly stuff. Fewer viking babes in the search results than I would have liked, though.

Limbo is either a plane of people bending over backwards to walk under sticks or Hell’s waiting room. There’s a walled city there surrounding by huge people, two giants doing something that seems deeply inappropriate, weird demons – a real grab bag of horrors.

Pandemonium is Hell’s downtown – lots of civic buildings and demonic politicians (i.e. politicians). There’s probably a tax for everything and you need a license to walk down the street or pick your nose. Tammany Hall taken to its extreme.

The never-ending plane of demons in D & D becomes a plane of water and pro wrestlers in Google Images. I’m imaging the demons “organized” into a myriad of wrestling federations, all gunning for the belt currently held by Demogorgon. Few suspect that Vince McMahon is the power behind the throne. Okay – everybody suspects it.

Hell’s prison – a little less exciting than Hell itseld, large guys with mauls, surprised monkeys, half-finished mosaics and cramped titans plotting revenge against the gods of Olympus. If you hate the Olympians, you can make some great contacts in Tartarus. Just don’t bring up the “Tarterus Incident” – still a sore subject in those parts.

Hades illustrates the problem of doing an image search for anything that has ever appeared in a Disney movie. I had to search for Hades + Underworld, and still got the big blue flamehead. Naturally, the images are all Hades-centric, so I’m picturing a land of the dead ruled by an arch-egotist. Like a Hitler/Mussolini/Kaddafi/Sadam-type, he has statues and images of himself everywhere. The plane also looks pretty adventurous – boiling seas, burning caverns, weird cities – all things an old schooler can get behind.

Gehenna is a real place – a valley in Israel. In a way, that makes the images of Gehenna the most interesting of the Lower Planes – in place of a heavy metal album cover, we get a lower plane that looks rather mundane. Or would be mundane if Chuck Norris hadn’t shown up to kick some demonic ass. I’m seeing a plane of souls that don’t know they’ve been damned, but do know they aren’t happy and can’t figure out what to do to change things. They’re trapped in their own lack of imagination.

Fire, darkness, devils chewing on people’s heads, torment, hags, Hello Kitty, Meatloaf, AC/DC and a rapper with regrettable dental hygiene. Welcome to Hell. I’m guessing Hell makes all the other Lower Planes roll their eyes – how cliched! Come on Lucifer – a billion years of fire and brimstone – how about something new? Lucifer smites the critic, of course, but deep down he knows he’s completely out of ideas. Hell is where the movers and shakers of the Lower Planes congregate, because Hell understands the concept of the D&D end game: Baron – Marquis – Count – Duke – King.

Acheron is the plane of Death Metal. ‘Nuff said. Raggi’s demonic equivalent publishes a ‘zine there.

I wonder how the enlightened, centered Buddhas are handling the introduction of Kurt Cobain to their ordered paradise. Eh – they probably just ignore him.

Google Arcadia is a lovely land of crystal clear waters, tall trees and massive war ships that ply sea and sky. Personally, I don’t see how the addition of sky ships can’t improve a plane that is otherwise so boring.

No major surprise to the color scheme here – whites and celestial blues. The giant carrot is a nice touch, and I’d love it if the first thing you saw when you reached Heaven’s astral shores was a “You Are Here” sort of map. A map is organized (i.e. Lawful) and helpful (i.e. Good), so it makes sense. Also notice Shep, Heaven’s answer to Cerebrus. I think I’d like a Heaven of solars, planetars and devas who look like push-over Hallmark card angels – especially when they lay the celestial smack down on the adventurers who – let’s again be honest – are almost certainly up to no good.