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Monday, October 10, 2016

Planescape - The Jinkskirts

There is this weird period of change occurring in my little world right now. Things are going great for me, but some of the people in my life have some really terrible things happening. This tumult led to a few weeks of no Planescape.

We played at Jessie's home, which is far away and shrouded in utter darkness. It was an utter miracle that I found the place. But I did, and bah gawd we played us some D&D.

Terrible Prep Work: My preparation sucked for this one. While writing that Guide to Planescape Factions, I kept having campaign ideas. I'd stop and add them to my ongoing planescape plot file. The problem there is that there were a few days between that brainstorming and the time I actually assembled my plans for the adventure, so I had a mountain of gibberish to sort through and precious little time to do it in. That's why I always try to do the bulk of my prep work within 48 hours of the session

Downtime Before Hellbound: We finished the big Infinite Staircase story and now we're going to have a few weeks of Sigil stuff before we start the Hellbound boxed set adventures. What I want to do is to reconnect the characters to the city, remind them of all the cool stuff they've done, and most of all I want to demonstrate the ramifications of the things they've done.

I think that's the key to any campaign - you have to think out the logical consequences of the actions of the characters. Everything they do has some sort of ripple effect and when you demonstrate that, it makes them feel that every decision they make is important.

Graz'zt the demon lord

My loose plan for the next few sessions:
  • (Tonight) Do downtime business stuff, develop the Tenebrous connection.
  • Have a session in the Great Dismal Delve - the group has been given estates in the land of the earth genies.
  • Lay the groundwork for Hellbound - the heroes are going to fight on the side of the devils, but they have a secret mission.
  • Run a session where their rakshasa enemy Raja Khan enacts a nefarious plan that involves the Doomguard faction.
  • Have Shemeska the Marauder return to the city. She went into hiding when her plan to blackmail the heroes backfired.
  • Maybe do a session where Graz'zt tries to annex the abyssal lair owned by the group's friend, Bazuuma.
The Party

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Half-Dabus/Half-Elf Wizard
* NPCs: Convivia Kettle (level 2 Priestess)

The heroes own a cluster of buildings known as "Deadbook Square."

The group returned from the Ethereal Plane where they had defeated the Iron Shadow. They rested for the night.

Bidam is a Pain Router: Throughout this session, I did this thing where Bidam felt weird pain. The Lady of Pain is the source of all pain in the multiverse and Bidam is now one of her "backup servers," so to speak. Or maybe her surge protector? Every day, a rusty blade will grow out of his body, and then it will rust and fall off. Obviously, this will be painful.

The only way to stave off this pain is to live by his belief, which is "Hit it and Quit it." Bidam hasn't quite figured out what is going on, but he's close.

Tour of Sigil: Theran's NPC girlfriend Convivia Kettle is now a Priestess, the custom class by Jason Thompson. She took the group on a ride around the lower ward of Sigil in the iron carriage of Nocticula, a thing they found in the plane of Acheron a number of sessions back.

I used this ride so the group could be reminded of the people and places in the city. I made sure to include Unity of Rings and Rule of Three, as I'm going to be doing a whole thing with them over the next 10 or 15 sessions.

I had the group run into my alternate universe waffle crew (the heroes of Dice, Camera Action). They really get a kick out of Evelyn's southern accent. In my campaign, Evelyn is a paladin of the Raven Queen, not Lathander/the Morninglord.

The waffle crew were in the middle of an adventure. The group decided to help them with it. They headed to the Beastlands, busted in to an ancient evil temple and looted some magic items.

With that done, the group split.

  • Bidam reconnected with Fall From Grace, who had been trapped in the Abyss for a time.
  • They went to the headquarters of their faction, the Sensates.
  • Secret Mission: Fall From Grace was given a secret mission from the Factol. She couldn't tell Bidam what it was. I can tell you: She's going to use her shapechange power to spy on The Fated. The Fated play a huge role in the upcoming Faction War adventure.
  • Bidam's Dark Pact: Bidam recorded a sensory stone and had a weird vision of the Orcusword reforming. Last session, he'd made a dark pact with Tenebrous. Bidam knows a ritual to turn himself into some sort of undead monstrosity.
  • Sensory Tubes: Bidam checked out these new Sensate sensation tanks. If you go in them, ten minutes feel like a day. You can learn about yourself. He saw a tiefling woman about to get in one. He seduced her and they got in a tank. His Lady of Pain pains went away.
  • Student: Bidam teaches a class for the Sensates. He missed a week and he has one student named Mulky who is a sort of internet fan of the Bidam. Mulky asks lots of questions about story inconsistencies/continuity gaffes in Bidam's sensory stones and Bidam tries to humor him.
  • Family Time: Bidam went home and ended up having to go to Bazuma's realm of Burningwater. She's a demon lord and he has a kid with her - a little baby abyssal dragon. If you remember, last session little Pyranicus was slain. When a demon is slain outside its home plane, it appears back in its abyssal home, alive. Pyranicus obviously was traumatized by this. Bidam had to have a weird little talk about dying with Pyranicus. Once Pyranicus was cheered up and outside, Bidam decided he wanted to make another baby with Bazuuma. Jessie thinks it would be cool to have an army of dragon children.

Iggwilv the Witch-Queen


Theran was given an offer to be an apprentice of Iggwilv, the Witch Queen! He accepted. There are two other apprentices: His old sidekick Selinza the cat lady, and Landerbold the Dandy, an arcanaloth.

Theran went through three wizardly tests:
  1. Concentration: He had to maintain concentration on a spell for 10 rounds while her familiars tried to disrupt it.
  2. Polymorph: He got into a polymorphing duel with her arcanaloth apprentice, Landerbold the Dandy.
  3. Demon Summoning: He had to summon and bind a demon (using these unearthed arcana rules).
When planning this sort of thing, it's easy to forget to plan for failure. If Theran fails one or two of these challenges, what does that mean? I had decided that each success sent him up the apprentice totem pole. One success meant that he was at the bottom. Two successes meant he outranked Selinza. All three meant he was above Landerbold and he would be Iggwilv's top apprentice.

He failed the Concentration test but passed the other two. He did really well on the demon summoning, successfully casting off of the scroll and then forcing the demon to obey him with an opposed charisma check. The demon was a solamith, of course. My favorite!

Theran's Task: Research old dusty tomes to find out everything about Codricuhn that he could. Codricuhn is this 4e demon lord who eternally climb up a abyssal chasm. There are six powerful demons that live in the storm around him Iggwilv wants to try to control one or all of them if possible.

She also revealed to him that Graz'zt wants to try to annex Bazuuma's Realm. Graz'zt currently rules three abyssal layers (his "triple realm" of Azzagrat) and he's always looking for more. There was an incubus a while back that had scanned Theran's mind and learned everything about Bazuuma. The incubus betrayed Iggwilv and sold the info to Graz'zt.

Festhall War

Faction Focus: Once all that stuff was done, the heroes reassembled and we played through a little scenario. I'm trying to focus on one faction per session. I want the group to be familiar with the factions so that the Faction War makes sense to them. Planescape is awesome, but there is a heck of a lot of lore to soak in. I really want to take my time and let them slowly absorb the ins and outs of all of the main components of the setting.

So for this session, I used the Sign of One. They have the power to imagine things into existence. How cool is that? The heroes own a brothel and they have one "star" employee. Another brothel has forced a member of the Sign of One to imagine her into existence. This fake/clone is now working at that brothel for a slightly lower price.

Fun Fact: The Planescape slang name for a prostitute is "Jinkskirt." What's a male prostitute? I'm going to go with "Jinksock."

The group did some serious investigating, including interrogating their star employee. The employee has a tragic backstory - her parents have this rare magical ailment and she's doing this work to pay for a cure.
Misfortune Devil

Devils: The enemy brothel is in Hellgate, the devil district of the lower ward (Hellgate is briefly mentioned in Faction War). I've wanted to use the Pathfinder "Whore Queens" for a long time, so this brothel is really all about signing souls over to Ardad Lili, The End of Innocence.

Basically, customers come in and if they like, instead of paying gold, they can sign over their souls. The Sign of One guy signed his soul over to them, but since that time he developed buyer's remorse. The devils agreed to give him his soul back if he agreed to imagine a duplicate of the "star" employee into existence. He has to maintain concentration to do this, so it's very stressful. He is also wracked with guilt, because more people are coming in and signing over their souls.

So the group comes to this brothel and I had cooked up some passion devils (from the 4e Monster Manual 3) with goofy perverted gimmicks. I'll spare you the details. One of these ladies was named "Bar Excellence." I don't know why, but that name makes me laugh. Her last name is pronounced "ek-say-lawn-suh."

I had no idea how the group would handle this situation. Stealth? Trickery? All-out assault? That's the fun of D&D! They, of course, did something unexpected. They each decided to go upstairs with a pleasure devil. They paid gold rather than handing over their souls despite some expert salesmanship.

Both heroes ended up passing out. A troll bouncer woke them and told them to leave. Bidam saw that he had an armband glued to his wrist. It had been attached with sovereign glue - a magic adhesive that is almost impossible to remove.

The person who runs the brothel is a gambling devil (also from the 4e MM2). While Bidam was passed out from all the sweet loving, he put this item on Bidam:
  • Solidarity Bands: When two different creatures where these, they share damage evenly when they are on the same plane. An armband can't be removed until the wearer dies, or someone casts dispel magic.
The misfortune devil has a troll chained up in a room wearing the other band. The troll regenerates! So the devil can stab the troll and Bidam takes half of the damage. Then the troll regenerates and the bad guy can do it again.

This was done as an "insurance policy" to make sure the heroes didn't interfere with his little scheme.

Boy, was Bidam mad about this. The group skulked about and found the Sign of One guy. They learned about the scam. They felt bad for him and told him they'd try to find his infernal contract and rip it up.

The group got into a fight with another troll bouncer who wouldn't let them come back into the brothel. Theran suddenly blew the troll away with a fireball right in the open.

That's where we had to stop! Next time, we'll wrap that up and go back to the Great Dismal Delve. I mined all that cool lore from the Plane of Elemental Earth, I want to put it to use.


Jason Raabis said...

These "downtime" adventures in Sigil are my favourite! This is where your skills at NPC development really shine. Where'd that armband truck come from??

Sean said...

Jason Raabis: The armband is from the guide to factions. One of the weird subgroups had the solidarity bands and I immediately wrote down the idea I had. Thank you! I love running city adventures with NPCs, it always goes well. It's nice to let the players roam freely and see what weird ideas they come up with.