By Tony Reeves.
to the Planes can be the one of the most rewarding, and challenging
areas a player can do. Conversely, they are also one of the
most deadly. Many dungeon masters prefer to avoid running adventures
in the planes, simply because of the difficultly involved, and
a lack of precise information such as there is available for
other campaign areas. There is a lot that isn’t covered in
the manuals in regard to planar travel, so in order to run an
adventure it requires a vivid imagination on the part of the
DM. I have enjoyed running many adventures in the planes, so
I’ll try to give a few hints to you on how to get there, and
how to stay alive. For some DM’s this data could also be of
Portals & Gates
There are numerous ways to get to the planes,
but there are also drawbacks to each of them. Portals and
Gates are the most simple and very best means of travel. What
I’ve found is that both are exactly the same so for this part
I‘ll just refer to gates for both. Both one way and two way
gates exist. A one way gate may allow you to pass through
it to another plane of existence, but once you go through
it, you may find that the gate doesn’t exist in the other
plane at all, so another means of return must be found.
A two way gate can lead both to a plane, and return back to
the original, or it may return you to another plane altogether.
All gates are either permanent or temporary and this depends
on the deity, or Power that rules that particular area. So
again you might go through a gate only to find it is gone.
Generally the gates can lead to any plane of existence. This
includes the inner places such as the elemental plane of Air,
water, or Fire. One must be very careful when going through
a gate as since not only are many of them guarded, but also
one may not know where one will end up! It‘s not to cool to
think you‘re going to the elemental plane of water to land
instead on the plane of Fire!
How do you know what gate goes where? Well,
most gates are color coded. For instance a red gate may lead
to the elemental plane of fire, a blue may lead to Olympus.
Don’t count on this though, as many adventurers have died
by passing through a gate that they thought was going one
place and ending on another. Generally boils down to a very
nasty trick by a devious Dungeon Master. Another sneaky trick
by DM’s is to include the use of portal keys or stones.
Some gates will not allow you to pass into,
or out of them without a certain key. Portal keys can be
anything, such as speaking a certain word, phrase, or having
a certain item in one’s hand or on one’s person. Some DM’s
simplify this to merely mean the use of a certain kind of
colored, or valuable stone, or gem. Again this will depend
on how sly your DM is.
Curtains are the colored “veils” between
the different planes. Such as between the plane of Gladsheim
and the 7th Heavens. While walking, swimming etc, one may
be able to pass from one plane to another quite easily. Some
curtains are translucent or transparent while others are opaque
and can’t be seen through at all. This generally is left to
the DM as is the coloration of the curtain. Again a wily Dungeon
Master may color the curtain so as to trick you. Deities or
other rulers of the plane may also stop one from passing through
the veil at their whim.
Spells and magic items
There are various spells and magic items
that allow or promote planar travel; however some do not allow
the user to control where one goes. This is a major drawback!
Again you could end up on the 400th layer of Hell, and not
be able to get back to the Prime material plane! Bummer!
Magic items may leave one stranded, or allow
multiple trips before failing. Amazing how these particular
items seem to fail when needed most! That’s one reason I say
they are the most unreliable. Also some spells won’t
work on certain planes, so if you’re playing a mage then you
should be extremely cautious of what spells you suspect might
not work. It’s always a good idea to have a plan for leaving
too, just in case things get a bit hairy and you need a quick
exit (of course on some planes the ruling power may not want
or even allow you to leave!) Scrolls are one of the best
means of flight unless you’re on the elemental plane of Water
or Fire! Even better though is a “ring of the planes.” This
wonderful object will allow you to travel at will once per
day (or more depending on your DM) to any given plane or one
specific plane. Keep in mind that there are many ways
to travel, and if you want to survive, then think about how
you are going to get back in one piece!
How to stay alive!
To begin with, you’ve got to be able to
face whatever elements are present at paradise you’re vacationing
to. The elemental plane of fire (Note: Please forgive me for
using the plane of Fire so frequently but it is an Elemental
Plane most of you will find most familiar!) for example.
One must find a way of protecting oneself from the searing
flames and from the gasses and smoke! A simple ring of
fire protection will allow you to live about twenty seconds
longer than without it! A scroll of protection from elemental
fire or scroll of the elements would give you full
protection until the duration ran out. So these are quite
useful in a pinch. Remember though, one successful dispel
magic will remove this protection and render you vulnerable
to the full effects of the fire! Of better use are unguents,
lotions, oils, potions, or best of all the “Amulet of the
Planes” which bestows invulnerability to all of the natural
planar elements and allows one to survive....except for food!
You’ve got to eat and drink. Water is abundant
on some of the planes such as elemental plane of Water, not
so abundant on the elemental plane of Fire! Even some of the
water in the Hells is drinkable for instance, the river Styx.
You just forget everything after you drink it. So remember
to protect your water or be able to create it at will. A “bottomless
jug” is good, so is the cleric spell create water.
Food is the same way. Go to the Happy Hunting
Grounds and somebody might get mad when you eat that huge
white buck you just killed! The cleric spell Create food
and create water is one of the best, or simpler still
a bag of holding that‘s been filled with non perishables.
Last but not least - money. On some planes, gold, silver,
gems, and most other things of monetary value on the prime
material plane work fine or can be exchanged. On others planes
they are absolutely worthless. What need does a Fire elemental
have for something that’s going to melt in his hand in a few
seconds? This is the key though. It is a well know fact that
most Fire elementals enjoy smelling items as they burn up,
(unfortunately some would also enjoy smelling you burn too!).
Bring sandalwood or other rare woods or even incense instead
and they are likely to trade rare gems, advice, or other things
you might desire.
Make sure you carry weapons capable of damaging
creatures natural to the plane you are visiting. The good
news is that when you attack most simple creatures, such as
a fire squirrel, or lightning snake, or earthen bumblebee
you will need a +1 weapon generally. The bad news is that
others native to the plains such as Marids, Genii, Djinn,
Dao, Demons, Devils, Modrons, Archons, Solars, etc. will require
+2 or +3 weapons and that mighty +4 holy Avenger your paladin
just brought will just barely kill the bumblebee. Fact
is the farther you are away from the plane where the weapon
was made, the weaker the weapon becomes! Of course in some
cases simple silver or cold iron weapons are sufficient to
get your point across. The best weapons are plane walker
weapons or ones that are native to the plane that you
are going to or created such that they can be carried to any
plane with no loss of power. A last word of advice here.
Some elementals, demons, devils, or other residents don’t
like some of the other residents that inhabit the planes.
For instance, fire elementals don’t like water elementals.
Devils don’t like demons, etc. So keep an eye out for natural
items that might have a significant effect on the plane that
you are going to. An endless decanter of water can be a tremendous
boon on the elemental plane of Fire!
Magic user spells don’t generally get altered
much in the plains with the exception of divination or summoning
spells. These can be really tricky especially if your DM is
quite a trickster. How about summoning a high level demon
on accident with NO way to control it whatsoever? Divination
too can be answered by the nearest local residents or “powers.”
So be careful and think about your surroundings. Cleric or
Druidical spells are roughly the same with one major problem.
The farther you are from your Deity the harder it is to receive
the higher level spells. The exception to this is use of spell
keys which basically are gems or other object capable of either
storing spells or allowing direct contact with one’s deity.
These are the best way to assure that your cleric’s spells
can be granted as necessary. ..Depending of course on one’s