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Monday, April 4, 2016

Planescape - Undersigil

I got an art commission for this campaign. Above is Bidam looking at the planar compass, Theran getting ready to load it, and the Lady of Pain looming behind them. I like to get at least one art commission for each of my campaigns.

This week we are going through an adventure in Undersigil. I dug up all of the material I could find on it - which isn't much. A lot of the best stuff is from Planescape: Torment. Stuff I like:
  • The Warrens of Thought: Home of the cranium rats.
  • The Weeping Statue: A strange talking stone head that leaks polluted water through its eyes.
  • A Weird Coffin Room: Glowing coffins and a dead body.
If you want an easy way to scan material to use in Planescape:Torment, check out this youtube playlist. You can skim the list and click on any places that look interesting to you. This game is overloaded with well-developed ideas that capture the Planescape feel.

Last Time: The heroes killed a swarm of 100 cranium rats. Now, the rest of the rats, known collectively as Many-as-One, are out for revenge.

Additionally, last week the heroes found an item that could possibly change Sigil and threaten the Lady of Pain. This is the Staff of Aoskar, an item that can supposedly create and alter portals. There is a sect called the Will of One (from Uncaged: The Faces of Sigil) who want it, as they want to bring Aoskar back. They are allied with Fell, the Fallen Dabus.

I actually had an art commission done a few years ago that depicts Aoskar:

Here, he's undead - That campaign was about "zombie gods" stomping around cities like Godzilla. I found a description online that said he had a big beard and a "universe" robe. It described his staff in detail. There are other people who think Aoskar has two heads. This is because his followers bred Aoskian hounds - dogs with two heads.

The Party

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Drow Wizard
* NPCs - Fall From Grace (Succubus Paladin), Selinza ("Litorian" Wizard, level 1)

The River Styx

The heroes took my Donald Trump NPC to the River Styx and dumped his head in it. This wiped his memory clean. I am going with the 2e River Styx rules as opposed to the 5e River Styx, which feebleminds you.

They left memory-wiped donald trump with their wannabe-demonlord friend and went to their home. I had made a map of the place that the heroes live in ("Deadbook Square") and I gave the players each a copy.

On the way home, they gave the staff of aoskar to a dabus. They would learn a short while later that somebody attacked the dabus and stole the staff!

I did some more stuff involving Shemeshka using her political organizations to mess with the heroes. They did not figure that out she was behind it:
  • Inspection: The heroes had their festhall inspected, and they learned that their staircase was not "centaur-accessible." They were fined and had to have the staircase widened or else The Guvner faction would shut them down.
  • NPC Bar Fight: Members of the Adventurers' Guild came to the square and started trouble at the Smoldering Corpse Inn. Bidam and Theran had to break a fight up between them and the devils. This other adventuring group is an "alternate universe" version of the heroes in Chris Perkins' Dice, Camera, Action game. In this group, Evelyn is a paladin of The Raven Queen. These new adventurers chastised the heroes for not joining the Guild and for letting devils live in their square.
Revenge of the Cranium Rats

Shortly after that, the entire horde of cranium rats came to Deadbook Square to get revenge. 350 cranium rats attacked everyone in the square, letting off massive mind blast pulses. 20 devils rushed out to fight them, but many of them got stunned. The heroes started hitting the swarm with area effect spells and powers.

The 99 gargoyles came out of the screaming tower to help. Then the hag from the tower came out and started firing off spells.

The rats were starting to get slaughtered, so they scattered.

Parlakk Ratcatcher

The group met with a guy named Parlak Ratcatcher (from Uncaged: Faces of Sigil). He explained to the group that there are actually four different cranium rat hiveminds in Sigil. Many-as-One is the dominant one, the other three lie beneath the city in the realm known as Undersigil.

Parlakk Ratcatcher was linked to another hivemind, known as Vermin Supreme. A deal was worked out. Vermin Supreme would help the heroes recover the Staff of Aoskar if they would help destroy Many-as-One.


The group went down to Undersigil. They took out some wererat guards and there was a fairly epic battle and a blazing inferno. In the end, the heroes had wiped out Many-as-One. Vermin Supreme was now the dominant cranium rat hivemind in Sigil.

Vermin Supreme had seen people with the staff of aoskar in Undersigil. They led the heroes to a stone face in the wall. polluted water seeped from its eyes and mouth.

The Weeping Stone
This is a modified version of a scene out of Planescape:Torment. Here, the heroes talked to the face and learned that they had to give him some fresh water. They opened their canteens, and gave him some. He thanked them and slid up into the ceiling, opening up a secret passageway.

Fell and the Staff of Aoskar

The adventurers crept down the passageway. In a chamber beyond, they listened to the bad guys. It was Fell, the rogue dabus, and three scummy-looking people (members of a sect known as The Will of One). Fell was practicing the use of the Staff of Aoskar, trying to open portals. The heroes remembered that Fell was the dabus who actually started worshiping Aoskar way back when.

He opened a portal to The Beastlands, and a small mortai (cloud with a face in it) came through. The portal closed. The mortai started arguing with them - it wanted to return home.

That's when the heroes jumped in. They wanted to get surprise, but Fall From Grace rolled low and I guess her chastity bodice rubbed against the stone wall and made a clattering sound.

Fell cast phantom steed. He and a flunky jumped on it and sped off down a hallway at 100 feet per round! The other two flunkies didn't want any trouble.

The heroes cut a quick deal. They jumped on the mortai (who was marshmallow-like in solidity) and chased after Fell. In return, they told the mortai that they would get him back to The Beastlands.

The Chase

Coaxmetal, the iron golem
When I was cooking up this adventure, I looked through the DMG for assistance. I didn't want to make a boring final fight. I saw an option about having a chase, and I thought that would be cool.

So in this encounter, the heroes slowly close in on Fell as they race through Undersgil. They trade range attacks with the guy on the horse while Fell uses the staff to open small, temporary portals to the plane of fire that shoot out jets of flame and etc.

The group sped through:
  • The Dead Nations: A vast complex full of sentient undead.
  • The Silent King's Throne Room: A ruler of the dead.
  • Symbol of Torment: A strange chamber with huge bladed symbols in the ground (that's the symbol of Torment, a room The Nameless One goes to in Planescape: Torment).
  • Secret Dabus Area: A place with shimmering white walls and 30 dabuses.. This might be the rumored place where the dabus actually live. I read a really cool theory that the dabus might be what people are reborn as when they die in Sigil.
  • Coaxmetal's Forge: The final area - a forge where a 30 foot tall iron golem hammered away. This is Coaxmetal, a really cool NPC from Planescape:Torment.
This was a way for me to throw concepts at the players, just to try to give them a taste of some of the cool stuff under the city.

The heroes fought Fell and his flunky. Fell revealed a really cool power. He's like other dabuses - he communicates with symbols that float above his head (called rebuses). Fell can actually make a rebus real!

Example of Rebuses - translation at bottom.
So I had Fell "say" to the heroes: "Can I axe you a question?" And the axe became a gigantic magic axe that starts hacking into them.

Theran went down during the battle, but he rolled a 20 on a death save and popped back up!

Once the flunky died, the Lady of Pain appeared. Fell cowered before her. She snatched the staff of aoskar from him and let him leave. Fall-From-Grace theorized that she lets Fell live because if he dies, the spirit of Fell gets to move on. By keeping him alive and a prisoner in Sigil, he has to live forever in shame.

Then she turned to the heroes and did weird stuff to them:
  • Bidam's Void: She stared at Bidam. Bidam felt a void grow in his heart (literally). He also felt the exterior of his heart being covered in cool metal. My idea here is that the heroes will soon be chasing after the Iron Shadow, a piece of the lady of pain that broke off and now is wandering the planes causing problems. Bidam's heart can now act as a prison for the Iron Shadow.
  • Theran's Spell Book: The Lady looked at Theran. His spellbook bean to glow. He heard the sound of a pen scratching on paper. Something had been written in his book. This is sort of "blank check" I wrote myself. I'm not sure what's in there yet - it's invisible writing. I'm going to think it over during the week and have it ready for next session.
The heroes vanished in a flash and found themselves back in their home up in Sigil. They took the mortai to the beastlands.

A'kin the Friendly Fiend

Unity of Rings
Upon returning home, an NPC named Unity of Rings sidled up to Theran. He is a guy who gives advice (he's also from Uncaged: Faces of Sigil). He told the heroes that A'kin the Friendly Fiend's magic shop was giving out free items. He 'advised' the heroes to check it out.

They did. As soon as they entered the shop, A'kin (a raavasta, like Shemeshka the Marauder) put a "closed" sign on the door.

A'kin listed the organizations that were harassing them:
  • Mutual Trade Association
  • Knights of the Cross-Trade
  • Runners & Escort Guild
  • Adventurer's Guild
All of them were run by Shemshka! A'kin said that he knew a way to get rid of her once and for all...

That's where we stopped. It was a pretty good one. I'm going to do two more semi-homebrew sessions and then start Tales from the Infinite Staircase.

Click here for the Shemeshka adventure.


Jason Raabis said...

These sessions are awesome. Your home brew adventures are very creative and tie nicely into the campaign. How did you create the Deadbook Square handout?

Sean said...

Jason Raabis: Thank you! I googled planescape maps and scoured them for buildings. Most of them came from a map of "the ditch." I cut and pasted them onto a background I made with a few brushes. Then I cleaned them up and tried to resize them. The zactar cathedral is the map right out of Dungeon 55, and the screaming tower is diterlizzi's art of the screaming tower.