From Outback to Outer Planes – Dirwin the Druid in Planescape! Episode 7: Rock Lobster

We headed into the Lady’s Ward early to open up the store, Water’s Garden Shop. Ceryi had acquired it off a debtor, and all of the employees had been killed when the previous employer tried to use summoning magic. On our way to the shop we were shaken down by a gang of Harmonium guards, but a bribe saw them on their way.

We got to the shop to find a range of exotic plants and sea creatures, as well as garden furniture. We were greeted by Buddy, an ex-wizard’s familiar rock lobster. With his help we were able to get through the day, feeding the animals and plants, cleaning and restocking. Also he turned out to be a pretty sound political debater. It only took me about an hour or so of his company for me to pay for his freedom.

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We had many visitors. A delivery man showed up a few times with new stock. A little half-elf boy came in to buy Buddy, but I had to explain to him that Buddy was no longer for sale and that if he wanted to be Buddy’s friend he should talk to him. That didn’t interest him. Word had to wrangle a few frogs who tried to escape. I discovered a dead fish and thankfully with Buddy’s help managed to analyse the disease in the tank and pour in a potion of greater healing before the disease killed anymore fish. Marja swept the floor, restocked, and argued her political revolution with Buddy.

I discovered a talking newt who claimed to be a princess, but when I took her outside and released her from the polymorph spell, she was actually a hag called Agnes Fishlips. I let her scamper off. Then a little old lady came and bought a few different plants for her new tavern. Word went off to deliver her plants. The little boy came in again but still wasn’t interested in getting to know Buddy really. Two men came in acting suspicious. Marja watched them. But eventually I figured out, by the way they kept looking out the front window, that they were hiding from someone, so I showed them through the back door.

I made toys out of rocks and flax for the fishes, and we received a new delivery of fish, Elysian fantail specifically. Then we had the big client come in, the one that Ceryi had told us to look out for. Her name was Lady Shilandra Mossfeather. I told her to ask whenever she wanted help, but as we set up new tanks and helped the little old lady, who came back to change her order, she started to look bored. So I turned into a seahorse and had some of the fish do some impressive choreography to get her attention. It was a little too much perhaps, because even though she placed an order with us for a very impressive tank with glow in the dark fish, it seemed that I was the thing she really wanted to purchase. She even stipulated that it be me coming to do the installation personally in her chambers.

While Wolf was walking with her to deliver setup pieces, Marja went out to commission glassblowers and carpenters, so Buddy and I were alone in the shop for the next few visitors. A necromancer came in and demanded that a certain crystal ball was his, and I could hardly stop him before he left. Oh well, at least the loss wasn’t too great to the shop. The little half-elf kid returned with henchmen and more money, but I still turned him away, so he threatened to return with his parents. Four teens came to buy goldfish, but when I tried to sell them tanks I realised they had no intention to keep the fish alive, so I sent them away. After lunch, we got a visit from Shimeshka the Marauder’s ‘fire service’. I took the wiser path (for now) and paid their stiff 300 gold fee. An elegant woman came in trying to buy 28 goldfish as spell components. I sent her away with an earful about using spell foci to avoid animal cruelty.

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Then, once Word had returned, a crazy homeless druid called Old Gameth came in and grew murderously angry because apparently I had ‘sold his friend’ (presumably one of the plants?). He cast a thunder spell and shattered four of the tanks. Thankfully I had just been learning how to control water! I managed to hold the tank water in the air, turn into a croc and escort him outside where Word pinned him down until he calmed down. Once he was more reasonable, Word bashed the workroom door open and I was able to guide the water flow into tanks in there. We sat him down, gave him some food, and tried to figure out his deal. In the end Buddy suggested taking him to the Bleak Cabal’s asylum, where he would be cared for, so Word escorted him there, with a new baby plant for him to raise as a gift from me.

Finally able to look around, I noticed a plant from one of the shattered tanks crawling off. It was lucky the tank did explode, otherwise I may never have seen this plant! It was a carnivorous red lily. I put it in its own tank and put an expensive price tag on it. Then who should walk through but the half-elf kid and his parents! So I polymorphed Buddy into a human so make them see that he was a sentient being on his own and his son could not own him. So instead they bought the lily. Kid might lose a finger or two. No skin off my nose!

Ceryi finally returned, and considering what a day we’d had and how much money we’d actually made, she wasn’t all that grateful. Oh well. She seemed disappointed in me for buying Buddy. I offered to awaken a frog to replace him as the shop mascot, but only on the condition that it be considered an employee and not a saleable item. She wasn’t keen on that, so I guess we won’t be having anything to do with Water’s Garden Shop anymore. Which is great, because I am exhausted from just one day of retail!

But there did come some good out of it. Buddy is going to come see the planes with us! We’ve even bought him a spellbook and he’s trying to see if any of his long dead master’s magic still lingers in him. Who knows? All I know is, I don’t see any other adventuring party around with a rock lobster in it!

From Outback to Outer Planes – Dirwin the Druid in Planescape! Episode 6: Weird Science

After cleaning up Heart’s Faith for some time, we heard that on the Outer Planes a paladin was looking for people to defend the modrons from evil. So we met Sir Vaimish Crasad in the town of Excelsior. He was a part of the Knight Militant, enemies of the evil Tacharim knights, who were conducting skirmishes against the modrons. We were to help the modroms get to the gate at Tradegate, and then we would be done. We were given a magical silver bugle and told to blow it if our spot ran into trouble.

Days into our escort of the march, taking time on and off, we finally had the chance to stop an attack. Four tacharim brought their yeth hounds and attacked. Something that shouldn’t have been possible happened… the yeth hounds’ fear effect affected the modrons…? Four modrons broke ranks and we captured, and we rode after the knights to resuce them. With the help of Sir Vaimish, we were successful. At one point I had fun dropping from flying form straight onto a knight in crocodile form.

Over the next little while I got the chance to know Sir Vaimish better. He is a good and humble man. His sister Greir was also a good woman, and was captured and most likely killed when she was spying in the enemy base and sending back information.  He was sad, but the way he paid tribute to her was by holding the line.

After a few more days passing, we heard horns caling up and down the line. Realising we were encountering some sort of trick, we flew up to the top of the dome of the march, and looked around. Some knights were already successful in capturing a large chunk of the march, and were riding off. Vaimish was unaware, so we sent Tessa to warn him, and we rode off, shadowing the knights. They led us to their outpost, where it looked as if there was some kind of factory where the large band of knights was dropping the modrons off. We rested a while and spied at them from atop a cliff, where we could see the band of knights riding off again. Vaimish sent us a message magically, and we were told to begin the rescue attempt. Word and Marja scouted for an hour, and then we flew in through a broken window – me as a raven, the other three as aphids on my back, and my pixies invisible by my side.

Inside we saw a terror too horrible to describe, so I will be brief. The modrons were being experimented on, and some were still alive during this process. There were pits with more modrons in, and a captive woman. I sent Hurdygurdy down, and he found out it was Greir!

So we mounted our rescue as such: I dropped Toledo and Word off as aphids at the inner door out of the factory room, and Marja and I hovered with the pixies on the ceiling. All at one moment, two pixies cast Fly on me and Marja, Toledo and Word reverted back to their natural forms, Marja cast entangle on the main doors, and the remaining pixies dropped Polymorph spells on the two guard knights in the room. They were tortoises from that point on, so we focussed on dispatching with the awful factory workers and their nasty experimental implements. Marja and Word had a particularly effective move where she whipped one up into the air, Word bashed into it, and then it landed on a table of experimental spikes.

After we’d freed Greir and the modrons, the pixies secured the room and we put the tortoises into the pits. Questioning them and learning what Greir knew, we could patch together this scenario: the Tacharim’s experiments are being lead by four people. One is a Mulhorandi priest of Set, Sethatis, and he had a bodyguard with a flaming body. The other two were a baariur couple, called Yissa and Denrac, and they seemed to be scientists. They were vivisecting modrons in order to improve Tacharim by creating hybrids, somehow. While we considered this awful plan, Marja performed mercy killings around the room where needed. Greir urged me to go now and kill the four leaders.

We burst into the upstairs rooms, sneaking past surgeons with failed operations (the modron parts have disintegrated when we performed our mercy killings) and happened to see the male baariur driven insane by his missing parts. We ignored him, moved on, and discovered Yissa in her study. We fought off her bodyguards and apprehended her, but got attacked by the fire elemental bodyguard of the priest. He fought by teleporting his way around, but after getting caught on the wrong foot, he teleported away. So we checked out the rooms in the relative peace, ignoring Yissa’s complaints. The priest must have gotten away, for there was no sign of him. We took personal effects of his in case we needed to scry or track him.

As soon as we tried to leave the corridor we were attacked again by the elemental. In the chaos we lost Yissa and she started blink-teleporting away, but we took the elemental out with ice storms, collapsing the balcony he was on, and with a flaming croc jump. More knights started to spill out, so we got outside and flew into the air. While Word and I scanned the horizon to see where Yissa got away to, Marja summoned a lightning storm to destroy the watchtower and the fortress. We couldn’t find Yissa, so we helped Marja set fire to the fort and started heading back towards the Modrons.

On our way there, we ran into Tessa, who spat Yissa out of her mouth! She had been flying to find us and had intercepted Yissa. So we took her prisoner and went back to Sir Vaimish. He was overjoyed to see his sister again, and took Yissa prisoner. Her sentence is to be imprisoned on Bytopia, where even the most evil of souls are daily assulted by the positivity of the plane until they are good people. What a wonderful idea. Also, Toledo left us to join Vaimish’s crusade. We’ll miss her, but it is a good cause.

Meanwhile, Marja, Word and I headed back to Sigil. Later, at the Garden Gnome Bar, we ran into Ceryi. She asked us for a favour. Tomorrow we’re going to be shopkeepers… at an aquarium!

From Outback to Outer Planes – Dirwin the Druid in Planescape! Episode 5: Spirit in the Sky

Day Forty Continued

In order to get to Mount Celestia we were allowed access to the Sensates’ secret chamber of portals. The strangest thing about this chamber was that in the middle of the floor, instead of the usual Sensate guild symbol, it was a symbol of the Lady of Pain. I was sworn to secrecy on this, but still… how interesting…

We found ourselves at a distance from Mount Celestia, on a heavenly plain. The sky was bright and yet there were still stars, and the air whispered sweetly with a calm breeze. Happy led us to the sword archon Alziel, who outlined the situation for us and answered any questions we could think of. The Modrons were about to arrive at a town called Heart’s Faith. It was a gate town leading back to the outer planes and unfortunately buildings had popped up on the roads the Modrons would take because there had been an influx of orphans from a world at war. The archons needed me to deal with it because they were worried about getting the taint of chaos on them, which you have to admit is kind of bizarre seeing as the Modrons are supposed to be the most lawful beings…

We headed over to talk to the marching modrons. They were observed by crowd of lantern archons as they marched not in a line, but in a hemisphere. As we got ready to head in, we ran into Tessa, the gynosphinx we freed in White Plume Mountain! She had followed the modrons from Arcadia, as her god there had told her to find out what was going on. She joined us and told us what she knew, including more information about their formation, their heirarchical structure, and that no one even knew why it was that they had to march.

We tried to fly in with Toledo on Tessa’s back and Marja and Word on my back as a Quetzalcoatlus, but Tessa and Toledo were nearly trampled underfoot, so we rolled them out. Instead, I tried flying in, in raven form. I was stopped further in and questioned, so I turned human again to speak. The questions were long and boring, and when I said I was an orphan they told me that was ‘unlawful’, so I lied. But then the next one I got to asked if I had a permit to speak to him, and when I lied, he somehow knew and said I had ‘failed the test’. Bizarre. How does it even know how to catch a lie? Something is certainly rotten in the state of Modron.

So with that being a failure we raced to get to Heart’s Faith. At the gate we heard that the usual lamassu guards were away at a conference, so there were only humanoids. From them we also learned that the mayor was out of town, and we had to find the acting mayor. So we ran through the streets, trying to cry out to as many people as possible to warn them to get off the roads. We met with Cauldronborn, the acting mayor, and he was very unsure of himself, so we tried our best to take charge.

With the help of my pixies using dancing lights in the sky, we tried to get as many people as possible to a far corner of the walled city. But by the time that most of them were there, the Modrons had already arrived. I stayed at the corner and ordered pixies and people to rush down the streets calling out to everyone to get out and run to safety. Marja and Tessa meanwhile flew to the gate and Marja tried to blow them back with a wall of wind… but all that resulted in was the Modrons started trampling over each other and got in eventually. Tessa meanwhile cast a divination and received back the rhyme ‘What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry’.

So we all tried our hardest, warning everyone we could, rescuing the young, old and infirm where we could, before the destructive tide of Modrons. I rescued Cauldronborn from being crushed and tried to argue logically with the modrons to back down. At one point the march came to a halt and I found the cause of it to be a bunch of old men at a tavern. One clever old man had thought to fib and say to them that there existed a treaty which they were breaking right now. But it only took three minutes or so before they realised he was fibbing and the march started anew.

Whilst I desperately moved to save children, Marja cast a spell of entanglement and that worked to slow them down some more. Through that, we were able to gain some time to save more lives. But soon the Modrons were at the harbour, and in order to get to the gate in the air, they dismantled ships to make a bridge.

It was during this long hold up in their march that I spotted the lead Modron and flew down to argue with him. I couldn’t reach him, but his inferior spoke to me. It was an infuriatingly frustrating conversation. The Modrons have no individuality, so no appeal to them on an individual level would work. The only progress I made at all was figuring out how to utterly break one’s logic: get it to state the date of the last march, and get it to state today’s date. In that way, I accidentally made one self-destruct. But another took his place immediately.

Eventually they were all gone, and we were left with the cleanup. Despite the real mess I made of things, the people were grateful for all that we tried.

But most important: I managed to get the rest of the locations of the march from the modron I spoke with. So we can going to follow them, Tessa too. And we’re going to try and fix the madness in the Modrons.

From Outback to Outer Planes – Dirwin the Druid in Planescape! Episode 4: Funky Sensation

Well, we finally had some time to take it easy. One of the first things I did, after a very long post-White-Plume sleep, was take Toledo shopping for a magic halberd and to fix her feet. While we were out and about, she asked me to refrain from shapechanging her again, as she did not like being something that wasn’t her. I told her I understand.

We managed to find a halberd +1 at Gax the polearm seller’s shop (he has every polearm imaginable!) and with Ceryi’s help we were able to find more special items that we were keen to purchase. For Toledo’s feet, we found some boots of springing and striding, which while not a perfect solution, at least helped her walk as fast as she used to. We also grabbed some bags of holding, winged boots and brooms of flying, cloaks of protection, a headband of intellect, a rope of climbing, a decanter of endless water, and an alchemy jug. Also we got my shield reinforced, and we got the metal orb identified. It’s something called a Driftglobe.

Also, it was time for me to join the Sensates properly. I went to the Civic Festhall, a magnificent place, in order to join. I had to be tested, and my tester was a blue dragonborn called Cyril Irefang. We had a verbal interview first about the philosophy behind the Sensates, how the details were there to be appreciated, how vicarious experience was flawed, but the arts were seen as an ideal way to share experience. Also he said that the Sensates were the most influential faction in Sigil, followed closely by the Takers, my favourite people…

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Then I had to take the test, which was to inject five experiences themed around the main five senses. I could tell that Cyril valued experiences that weren’t completely positive. So I decided to work him in slowly. He wasn’t overly impressed with my first sensation, which was a taste montage of Dandy’s meals – the first, cooked on a budget, in our shared home in Phlan, through the months til the final meal together, with the bittersweetness of farewell. He was slightly more impressed with the next sensation, which was a chronology of the sight of Merka, from when I first met the hulking but shy eagle-feathered half orc, to seeing him rage, to finally seeing him become a chief and grow into his full self. I decided for my third sensation to transition from the positivity of my first two sensations into what I had planned for the last two, by using the sound of Sione’s ukelele playing. First light, happy, but ending with the piece of music we once found, unfinished, haunting, leaving us all in stunned silence.

Then for my fourth, I hit him with smell. Rotting earth and wood, wet night, then the sizzle of magic in the nostrils, hideous smells issuing forth from a cauldron as I battled the three witches in the windmill. Then the smell of freshly tilled earth, freshly carpented wood, clean sheets, washed children, the light sweat of an old man, the light perfume of an old woman… and then flames, ashes, werewolves. The story of the windmill Old Bonegrinder did impress him indeed. But I wasn’t done.

For my final test I gave him touch. The feel of a man’s cheek, pudgy, pockmarked, stubbly, and tears running down it. My arm around his round shoulders, and putting a wooden stake into his calloused, broad hand. Holding him in both arms as he shook with grief. Pulling him back from danger, his weight straining against me. His arm across my chest to save me from stepping into danger. Breaking bread with him, clinking tankards together. His hand on my shoulder, the rush of healing magic pouring into me. And then ashes in my hands, the last time I ever saw my friend Donavich.

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As I finished my test, we both had tears in our eyes, but I was definitely in the club. Amongst my new perks was wearing the guild symbol, getting into the public sensorium for free, and access to the private sensorium, tickets to shows and lectures. I met Enali Webspinner, a baurier who runs the day to day and can supply me with anything that can help me to experience new sensations. As part of my membership dies, it is expected that I share and teach, so the first thing I did was sign up to teach interactive classes on outback creatures, with immersive illusion magic and limited uses of polymorph.

I also started attending lectures myself. I listened to an interplanar traveller, something called a kender, and she talked about all sorts of wondrous sounding things like an Infinite Staircase and winged rainbow snake ladies. Also I went to a painting class.

Finally, I went to the History of Sigil class by Heironymus the gnome wizard. Sigil and the Lady have been here as long as anyone can remember. The factions just sprang up (though I do question that… perhaps he’s not trying to get to the truth hard enough?) and there used to be 50 of them, until the Faction War. He corrected something Madame Eva had told me. The three rules include the idea that wherever you are is the centre of existence, no matter where in the planes you are. I want to explore this idea, but I think I grasp it somewhat. Also I learned that to be ‘mazed’ means to be sent by the Lady into a pocket dimension, never to return. You have to be pretty important for her to do that. Also gods are forbidden in Sigil. The last god who was here, the god of portals and travel, tried to build a temple, and she destroyed him. I find this idea fascinating and too coincidental to not examine further. The god of portals and travel, in this place? Interesting. Also as a side note I found out that the Athar will give guided tours of dead gods! I’m very keen.

Eventually when I went to the private sensorium, I met Brannamaynthax, the brass dragon librarian. He seemed to get increasingly frustrated by my requests for information, though he also seemed to be encouraging me at the same time. I’m not sure, especially since the first sensation he gave me was a bunch of people being killed by a dragon. He did hint though that if it was information I was looking for, I should seek out Lothar, a necromancer/diviner called the Master of Bones. I am only allowed three sensations a day, to avoid addiction to them, so I spend the first two examining sensations of fear and existential dread, as I search for Tenebrus. Then I finish with a lighter one so I can get through my day.

Day Forty

Today I was summoned to Cnatha’s office. There I met a glowing ball of light – a lantern archon from Mount Celestia, who said that its masters have selected me to deal with the Modron problem. Not sure why, or what it was all about, I gathered the team and followed my new friend – who I dubbed Happy – out of Sigil. To Mount Celestia..? Like… literal heaven..?

From Outback to Outer Planes – Dirwin the Druid in Planescape! Episode 3: Misty Mountain Hop

Day Nine Continued

Ceryi is a member of the Planar Trade Consortium, and so it was through her organisation we were able to be ushered through a secret Consortium gateway to a gate on Bytopia, and from there to a gate to a place called Oerth where we would find White Plume Mountain. As we went, we were told about the message, a poem, from the thief of these rare weapons. The weapon known as Wave would be found near the ‘Beast in the Boiling Bubble’. The weapon Whelm, at ‘Water Spouts Double’. And something called Blackrazor underneath an inverted ziggurat. We were also told about Keraptis, a wizard who had vanished into the mountain for solitude about 1300 years ago. All this, and getting to Oerth, took about an hour.

Through the gate we arrived at a cave called Dead Gnoll’s Eye Socket. Outside it was snowing and dark. We headed northwest to the mountain, with me taking the form of a giant flying lizard, and Marja pointing the way. Looking for entry, we found a small 40 foot cave from which steam emanated periodically. Exploring the cave through communing with nature and moving about inside the stone using a new spell I had recently learned to use, I found a trap door in the floor that we could go through.

Under that was a giant spiral staircase, and when we reached the bottom of that we found ourselves walking down a corridor with a foot of stagnant water throughout. It took us another hour from the gate to the end of the corridor, where we met the gynosphinx. She was in terrible condition and bored out of her mind. After trying to talk to her and figure a way to get her free of the wizard’s bond that had trapped her here, presumably for almost 1300 years, she gave us a very easy riddle about the moon. We asked her name, which was Tessa, and sat by her for a while, trying to figure out how to free her. In the end, Marja and I cast dispel magic at the same time, and she was freed. She cast Banish on herself and went back to wherever she comes from.

Behind her post was a fork, and we took the central path. Off of that path we discovered a pool of water, at the bottom of which was a valve that I imagined would drain the water… but none of us were strong enough to move it. Back on the path, we found ourselves in a room with a staircase leading up. Suddenly two naked women emerged from the water, but I could tell they were clearly something monstrous, and as none of us were fooled by them, they attacked, their bodies contorting like moving seaweed. They tried to drown Toledo and Word underwater, but that was a mistake because Toledo doesn’t breathe, so we were able to focus on freeing word and ending the monsters.

Exploring the deeper water at the centre of the room, I found a set of magical chainmail, a beautiful necklace, and some money. We decided to take a quick rest there. At this point, it was four hours into our twenty four hour ultimatum. At the end of that, we went up the stairs to find further corridors, further doors.

Through the door to the east we found a strange turning cylinder of a corridor, with oil and psychedelic patterns in the cylinder. In order to avoid getting oily and tripping, I flew through the cylinder as a raven and peeked through the next door. There was a man there, looking as if he was supposed to be guarding, but he didn’t notice me. With the help of the band of pixies I always summon – lead by Hurdygurdy and his leiutenant Butternut – we flew through the cylinder and burst through the door. Though we had the man surprised, I introduced myself and started questioning him as non-threateningly as I could.

His name as Burket, and his female friend who walked out at that point – and turned into a werewolf! – was called Snarler. After a brief fight where, despite a fear spell from Snarler which made Toledo cry because she thought she wasn’t a person, we managed to subdue the two. We said we didn’t want to hurt them and dropped a Dispel Magic spell on Snarler. It worked, and she was able to see her way past the compulsion put on her to guard this dungeon. We left her to it to dispel the spell on her mate, and continued on our way.

In a room nearby, through three heavily sealed doors, we entered a dream. Protected by a thin membrane, we were walking in a large corridor beneath a boiling lake. Walking to the centre, we found ourselves faced with a huge crab. After escaping its clutches and backing off into the corridor, we realised he didn’t want to break the membrane, so we talked to him just out of reach. We discovered this was pointless however, as he was an insane solipsist. So we polymorphed him into a tiny snail and raided the treasure chest behind him. Within we found lots of money, goggles of night, and the trident known as Wave. One down, two to go.

After six and a half hours in the bowels of the mountain, we moved into the north-east corridor of the fork that Tessa had been guarding. Down this corridor Toledo had her feet melted by a horrible green slime, so we had to fly with the help of my pixies once more. We entered a room of five flesh golems and failed to answer their riddle in time, so we had to flee, getting badly hurt in the process. But after recovering from that (for they did not chase us after that room!) we crossed a one-way turnstile into a room with a strange trap. There were discs on chains, suspended over boiling mud with geysers that erupted every few minutes. Rather than trying to be clever, we just flew past this and went into the next section of cave. There we ran into a vampire. After dispatching with him, we found he had been guarding a stash of money, potions, scrolls and the warhammer known as Whelm. It called out to me in a dwarven sounding voice as I threw it in the bag. By the time we were back in the fork, after breaking the turnstile in crocodile form, we had been in the dungeon for eight hours.

Going down the final, northwestern corridor, we found a trap with copper plates that created a hot energy field between them. This was fine for anything not metal, as I discovered when I threw a coin in. So I was able to hide our treasure in ‘druidspace’, but Toledo was all metal! So I changed her, via polymorph, into a human woman. She started crying because she had always wanted to know what it was like to be fleshy. But her joy soon ended as, once we got through the trap, we were attacked with ghouls. Once her polymorphed body expired, she was back to her normal self.

After the ghouls, we saw a room that was just… beyond description. Flying into it as a raven, trying to ignore the weird slippery floor, I found that I was suddenly flightless, on the ground, and slipping towards a pit trap. Some quich thinking from Marja, and with her vine whips she picked me up and saved me from the razorblades in the pit. So we rigged up an elaborate system where  I went first. I turned into a kangaroo, they tied the rope around my waist and let it out. I bounded, managing the slipperiness as much as I could, and found my way to the far door where the slipperiness ended. Next, with the rope held on both sides and Toledo using a chainmail shirt strung up like a harness, she slowly made her way across pulling with her hands. Next, Marja tied the rope to Word and crawled across as a caterpillar. Then we pulled Word across, but he was quick enough to make the leaps, so we didn’t have to tug him out of the pits.

After that awfulness, we were unimpressed when we saw a river of floating water with some waiting kayaks, and just moved on past that. Instead, we found ourselves in a room with an aquarium, then below that a terrarium, then below that another aquarium, and below that a pit with three flightless manticores and a door to another room. We completely ignored everything by sitting out of range for ten minutes and letting Marha’s lightning cloud strike at the manticores until they were dead. Then we flew over – via giant kookaburra – down to the door.

Within, we found a halfling called Qesnef, surrounded by luxuries. But we thought no way, something’s up. It was. He was an oni, and attacked. He didn’t last long. In the stash behind him, we found scrolls, potions, magic rings, money, and Blackrazor. It began to talk to me seductively. Straight in the bag he went.

It took a couple of hours for us to get back, but when we got to the fork where Tessa was, we were trapped! The voice of Keraptis boomed, saying we would just have to stay in here now, guarding the three weapons, and we were attacked by two efreet. We dismissed their summoned fire elementals and just hit him as hard as we could, all out of spell slots except for some minor healing. But we managed to overcome them, and fly out of the mountain back to the gate.

Well, we were done, but the Takers weren’t. Once we got back to Sigil, a good 13 or so hours after the ultimatum was issued, we found the office shut. So we went to Cnatha, desperate. I told him I was ready to join the Sensates, and that we needed his help. He led us to the Tin Puggle, the bar of the Takers. He had a word with the people in charge, and look at us, intimidated by the news that we made it through the mountain in less than half a day, they agreed to see us first thing tomorrow. As we were leaving, I spotted the Collectors, the people we ran into on the other side, last week, with the green roses. So, it was them all along. They set the Takers onto us. Well. I’m not one for revenge. Hopefully they get the message now that you cannot stop me when I put my mind to something.

From Outback to Outer Planes – Dirwin the Druid in Planescape! Episode 2: A Day in the Life

Day Nine

After a week of living here, we’ve finally finished kitting out our new case on the corner of Saints Boulevard and Revel Road. Marja still isn’t happy though. No real ground, no real sun. I’ve made her a pit of earth in her room, but I’ll have to see what kind of magical sunlight I can rig up for her in there. At least burning all the old ledgers belonging to Jysson seemed to make her a bit happier.

room

Earlier today I met a half-elf called Cnatha Da’nanin, the consort of Erin Darkflame Mongomery, the Factol of the Sensates. He had heard about me and came to visit. He told me about the value of the factions and why I might want to consider joining one. He wasn’t trying to sway me towards the Sensates, but everything he told me made me consider them the closest to my personal values. I was most excited by the prospect of their library where people could record their experiences for others to experience. So that’s something I started doing today. I feel like my experiences in Barovia are worthy of recording, and Cnatha says many people will want to feel what it’s like to be an outback creature.

All this week we have been eating different foods at different places in the market district, but our favourite place where we find ourselves gravitating to every couple of days is a vegan gnome bar where the petite dishes are delivered on plates on a moving bench. The owners are a threesome of gnomes who all seem to be married to each other. The wait staff includes Sidonie, an androgynous Aasimar obsessed with fashion, Grudak, a jumpy Thri-kreen who seems to be hiding from his past, and Polynomise, a reckless nymph who charms everyone out of anger each time she drops something or trips.

The friends I have made at the bar include Toledo, a warforged who identifies as female. She stumbled into Sigil from a place called Eberron, where she was walking on a drawbridge on guard duty. She is more clueless than us despite being here longer than us. We also met Ym Grapplescrap, an ugly gnoll who is a Bleaker and a soup kitchen worker. He isn’t evil, because he’s found a new pack with the Bleakers after being kicked out of his gnoll pack. Also we are friends with a marid weapons merchant called Ceryi.

We had more visitors later in the day. The second lot were taxmen, ‘Takers’ from the hall of records, saying that we owed 50,000gp in back taxes!

While we sat and despaired and racked our brains trying to think what we should do, we received our third visitor. I coudn’t believe my eyes. It was Madame Eva, the vistani. I told her she wasn’t welcome because I blamed her for the death of Esmerelda, before I suddenly remembered – Esmerelda killed Madame Eva. And yet here she stood. She was from the past, before I had even come to Barovia, but she knew who I was and she vaguely knew the future. I didn’t think it possible that I could interfere with the past through her, so I shut up and listened to her. She said she knew she’d owe me a debt in the future, so she was here to pay it. She told me that this place works on three rules:

  1. The rule of belief. I already knew about this. The planes are only held together by what people believe, and my visit to Automata shook their beliefs so much that it moved the geography of the place.
  2. The rule of threes. Everything comes in threes.
  3. The rule of rings. Everything is cyclical.

She left me with a question that hadn’t occured to me. How did the Takers know about me? An interesting thought.

Morosely, Marja, Word and I went to the bar. But that was a lucky thing. Instead of drinking away our sorrows, as soon as we told our new friends our problem, they had the answer: Ceryi needs someone to go fetch some weapons that were stolen, and will pay us 50,000gp for the pleasure. Toledo has offered to come with us.

We’re going to some place called White Plume Mountain.

From Outback to Outer Planes – Dirwin the Druid in Planescape! Episode 1: Welcome to the Jungle

It has been five years since Dirwin rejoined Barovia with the Prime Material and he, Marja and Word began their search for Tenebrus, the root of all the sorrow on that place. Lost in a world which was neither Nerath nor the Forgotten Realms, they stumbled about, helping people where they could and searching for any word of Tenebrus.

Today all that will change when Dirwin and Co find themselves in Planescape!

Day One

You think you know everything. You don’t. Five years of fruitless searching ended today in a new destination, a fresh road to travel, and all because of some old lady’s garden.

We were in a pub when her manservant sought us out. His name was Merent, and his mistress had heard tell of Marja, Word and I. She wanted help, so we went along to meet her. Her manor house was small, as many rural seats are. Lady Kindernes was gardening when we arrived. Over tea she explained to us her problem. Every night a red rose went missing, and a green rose was left behind. Green roses. Sounded like a clue for a druid if ever there was one. Examining it, I couldn’t figure out where it came from.

We spent the night out in the garden by the roses and it took less than an hours meditation for me to feel what was odd about the place. There was a great big window of the house facing the garden, and that window somehow led to another world. Or at least, that’s what my instincts were telling me, but the window didn’t yield to touch. But Word could smell it too. Something weird.

As we were investigating, five people emerged from the window. I say people, but these were like people I had never seen before. One covered in spikes and dripping… something. One that was strangely androgynous and non-descript, and smelled very strangely to Word’s senstive nose. One rat person. A small, very small person. And a snake person.

“Pike this, the coney’s got bashers!” said one.

“Hello?” I attempted.

They charged at us. The fight between us soon turned into a struggle for them to escape from our unexpected onslaught of pixie magic, Marja’s vines, Word’s jaws and my own (in crocodile form, naturally). That androgynous person – a mimic! It was the only casualty of our melee. Three others got away through the portal, stealing a red rose before they went through. We were left with the spiky man our captive.

“You burks! The music will maze you!”

This, and other strange lingo, erupted from his mouth. But after some time we managed to calm him down and speak to him about what was happening. Why was he stealing roses and leaving green ones? Where was he from? He kept calling us ‘clueless’. He said he was Zafnar, a cutter from the Collectors. A Knight of the Post. From some place called the Cage, or Sigil. After many hours of trying to figure out his strange speech, we finally managed to piece together the clues. He was from a place with many gates, and to get through the gates one needed a key. For this particular gate one needed a freshly plucked rose. It was only a temporary gate. What was the purposing of the visit? Turns out they were casing the old bird’s joint. I told him I wasn’t having any of that, and he could tell his Collector friends that Dirwin wouldn’t allow it. With that, I let him go back through the portal.

Day Two

The next day I told the old lady what had transpired and she had Merent set to boarding the gate up. She gave us a small metal ball with some kind of evocation magic within (it floats? I haven’t figured it out yet) and as an additional favour we asked that she let us go through the gate before it was boarded up.

On the other side we found ourselves in an alley, very grey and rainy, with a strange vine growing everywhere. Looking up at the sky, all we could see was more buildings…

Heading out of the alley we found ourselves in a bustling marketplace. There was a genie selling fresh dreams, ogres bearing palanquins, animal-headed men, imps carrying advertising. After nearly enraging a pit fiend who was handing out pamphlets of “non-belief”, we were saved by a sheep-horse-man called Stronghoof.

I was starting to pick up on the lingo pretty strongly by now but he was able to educate me more. He is a tout, or a guide for the people new to Sigil. A cutter is a word for a person. He explained this and many other terms. He said that the whole place was alive with gates to everywhere, and these were there only by the sufferance of the Lady of Pain. Soon after he said this, she came sweeping through the street and he made us all hide. Apparently to stand in her shadow will flay your skin off? Not something I’d like to try. I asked if Stronghoof knew anything of Tenebrus, but he didn’t. But he told us that jink – money – wasn’t the real currency here. Knowledge and secrets is what the real jink is.

More importantly he showed us to a place where a guy wanted a job done in exchange for lodgings. Readily we agreed. We went to an old clerk’s building with the name Jysson on a sigh outside. Inside was a cat and a talking book. The cat was apparently Jysson, on a mission back from the Beastlands, his afterlife of choice. He had failed to return the talking book to its maker, Heiron Life-giver, before he died, so he wanted to ask us to do that for him. Easy enough, we thought. Ha…

Heiron’s shop was in Automata, a “gate city” – a kind of middle ground between Sigil and the outer heaven of Mechanus. To get there we needed to go through a door in the clerks’ ward holding a piece of paper torn perfectly in half, each side bearing the letter E. On our way there we stumbled into an argument between Athars and Believers about whether gods existed and whether everyone could become a god. I’m afraid I tried to appease both sides and so ended up having to run away.

But we got to Automata unscathed. Definitely unscathed compared to what happened next.

First we were accosted by guards who told us to go and get our permits for being here. We wanted to just go to Heiron’s shop, but I thought we had better try to follow the law at least.

Six hours and countless forms later, we were on the way to Heiron’s shop. Looking up in the distance we could see a great circlet shape in the sky above an impossibly high spire. Jysson told us that was Sigil, in the middle of the outer planes.

As we walked, we were met by many guards who checked all of our permits and always found some error in them, but they simply warned us and let us continue. But then when we reached the shop, it was a dried meat shop, not Heiron’s store at all! So we bought some meat and at the shopkeeper’s direction went to the inn called the Divine Machine to find out about Heiron.

It was there that the second major trauma of the day happened. We met Toorlak, the halfling bartender, who asked us for our BMIs. He analysed our weight and heights and alcohol tolerance and began to calculate our dietary needs. How, I said, could a beautiful free halfling soul be trapped in a plane of pure law? He looked like he was going to cry. I told him he could leave with us. He panicked and said what about the paperwork? I managed to convince him that I could polymorph him into something small and sneak him out.

Asking around the bar, we had no clues given to us about Heiron’s whereabouts, but then Word and Jysson noticed a tiefling woman sneaking out. Jysson followed and I rode on him in the form of a flea. The woman knew where Heiron was and only revealed that to Jysson once he assured her he just wanted to return his property. She was worried that Heiron was in trouble with the wrong crowd. But at her suggestion, we waited until night so we didn’t have to fill in any more permits.

As we went to the gate to sneak the polymorphed Toorlak through, we sensed we were being followed, but could find no one. We send the halfling through without being caught.

At night we managed to sneak without much effort, timing it right behind the utterly predictable guards. We found the paperwork closet where Heiron was supposed to be hiding, but there was no-one there, and no door. So we did the five knock ritual we had been taught, and he revealed himself – out of a magically created pocket in the wall. He was not keen to see us, and when we returned his book and asked if we could help with his troubles, he disappeared again.

But just as we were about to leave, the people who had been following us showed up! Their leader cast a dispelling spell and Heiron’s pocket in the wall exploded out into the room, and then the walls exploded straight out and we were all on the street – nine thugs and us! A mad scramble started where the thugs chased after Heiron and we chased after them to save him. In order to prevent us being apprehended I summoned nearly four hundred ravens to my aid, thinking (rightly in the end, it turns out) that any guards who showed up would try and apprehend each individual raven. When the guards came, they all chased ineffectually as they waited for individual scouts to return for the permits to arrest ravens!

In the midst of this third trauma of the day, we made it to the central square where stood the mighty gate to Mechanus. It was there that three githyanki assassins landed on top of me and declared themselves for the Collectors.

As if that weren’t confusing enough, the gates of Mechanus opened, and wave upon wave of small geometric beings marched out and up the central boulevard. In the confusion we were able to dispatch two assassins and the third fled. But we lost Heiron and the three thugs pursuing him. I hope he got out alright. Also, at some point my concentration was disrupted, so the ravens vanished. Automaton guards freaked out, screaming, resigning, and having existential crises left right and centre.

We got back to Sigil and Jysson explained to us that the geometric things were Modrons, and every 280 years or so they went on their Great March across the planes. But the timing was wrong. It had only last happened a century ago. What was happening? Also as we travelled through the city, we heard rumours cried out that Automata had shifted in the planes, closer to chaos, because someone had exploded a building there and summoned four hundred ravens out of thin air.

Oh dear.

On the nice side, Jysson rewarded us with his building, run-down as it is, and his secret stash of money, before going off back to the Beastlands.

So… we’re in the nexus of worlds. What better place to start looking for Tenebrus in earnest?