To Chance with Hell (Planescape)
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There’s rarely anything about the plane of Limbo that makes “sense”; this is a plane where even mortals can influence the very environment with enough concentration. But, while food, water, solid ground are at a cutter’s fingertips, it isn’t easy surviving on this plane. For one, it’s hard to stand “still”, what with gravity being a suggestion (rather than a rule).
The only known “settlements” in Limbo are Githzerai ones, and they’re about the only “stable” things on the planes. The Slaadi are the second biggest danger in Limbo, horrific creatures of chaos who see visitors as food.
The biggest danger? Forgetting to create oxygen to breathe.
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Borders: Ysgard, Pandemonium
Connected by: Xaos (Outlands)
Planar features: Normal time, subjective gravity, wild magic, highly mutable landscape, and an ever-changing environment. Weee!
By a Strange Petitioner inside a Moon
Good you see how to. Sit like to down would you? Hah, had you worried I was another one of those bloody chaosmen, didn‘t I? As if the Xaositects were the only ones who would choose to spend their time in Limbo. As barmy as they come, those people, and I use the term lightly. What they lack in intellect, they make up for dedication, however. It‘s not easy being devoting to the primordial wild that is chaos incarnate. You‘ve shown quite a bit of perseverance yourself, forcing your way past my guards like that. No, I‘m not angry, everything you destroyed has already been remade, and in Limbo such obstinacy should be rewarded. Come, I shall fashion seats for you and then we can talk like civilized beings. You will forgive me if I ramble on, I have grown accustomed to the sound of my own voice being my sole companion these past two centuries, for it has been far too long since I last had visitors.
You must have been surprised to see something so large floating in the wild. I modeled this realm after the moon of my home on the Prime Material. It‘s about the right size and a fair replica if I do say so myself, though perhaps the chaos-matter has eroded it some while my mind wandered. You were swimming through it weren‘t you, the chaos-matter? Is this your first time in Limbo? Yes, that would explain that little spell on you, something to protect you from the more dangerous properties of the plane. Really not necessary, and you never know when such magic will go awry at an inopportune time. It‘s not hard to create air to breathe and even ground to walk on. Surely you saw how the chaos-matter changes. The stuff is made of equal amounts of the four elements, but randomly shifts in consistency. Bubbles of air ignite into flame or become solid rock. Earth changes to water and back again, before reverting to raw chaos-matter. I know it can be quite disorienting at times, there being neither up nor down, and it must be terrifying for those afraid of drowning. Or of being buried alive, or of catching on fire! Really, traveling through Limbo can be quite like swimming through a thick, deadly soup. So I‘ve been told, anyways.
Amazing isn‘t it? All of Limbo filled with this chaos-matter, no layers or boundaries to give it any semblance of order or definition. It can be hard to appreciate until you realize that all Creation was once like this, that the Great Ring itself originated here. Few people know that about Limbo, and plenty would rather disregard it for other tales tailored to their beliefs. No, I won‘t try to answer how it all came into being. I‘m just as willing to believe it a random act as the providence of some long forgotten deity. After all, strange and wonderful things pop into existence all the time here. If you think about it, with the chaos-matter continually changing you‘re bound to find something a bit more interesting than elemental pockets eventually. More often than you‘d think I‘ve seen realms that look like they were ripped straight from the Prime; masses of earth complete with grass, trees, and other terrain, sometimes even air and gravity all their own. Mazes of coral reefs, castles made of crystal, explosive symphonies of light and sound, and other sights and sounds far more amazing. The plane spontaneously forms it all, and just as spontaneously tears it apart. The most beautiful, impossible things can be found in Limbo, only to vanish without a moment‘s notice. I‘ve spent days on the surface of my realm watching diamond tears rain upon the ground, sat in the middle of a sun as its light and heat transformed into musical notes, let my body dissolve under the acidic caresses of…
Er, pardon me, I‘m rambling again. Anyways, it‘d be a real tragedy that such things fade away if not for the fact that a strong mind can hold it together or recreate it at will. That‘s what I was getting at a minute ago when I said it‘s really a simple matter to survive without magic. Even mortals can shape the chaos-matter to their whim, from altering the elemental shifts to bringing one‘s wildest dreams to life. With a tad bit of luck even the most unskilled can control the area around them enough to create pockets of air to breathe, while anarchs, the true masters of chaos-shaping, can create entire cities or bend the very laws of reality. That‘s how the Githzerai in ages past went and made themselves a civilization out of nothing. Most techniques of chaos-shaping used today are muddled derivations of those invented by the githzerai chaos-shapers of the Anarch Guild, though I honestly doubt any of them have the expertise to make something as grand as this realm of mine! There are any number of folk who have attempted to follow in their footsteps, going off in the wild to make realms of their own. Then they see this place and think I‘m just dying to spend a decade teaching someone to make a moon of their own! They should stick with the githzerai, they make excellent teachers, assuming you can convince them you‘re “worthy for instruction” and all that. Otherwise, you can always find a mentor among any of the lesser Anarch Guilds. Just make sure you‘re dealing with someone reputable.
As you can see young adventurer, there‘s no place quite like Limbo. A few planes come close, namely the Ethereal and the Dream, each with its own take on raw dynamism and creativity, but what they lack is the most important quality of Limbo: freedom. Freedom from scarcity, from the social mores and dependencies of society, and most of all freedom from others trying to set the course of your life. If you don‘t like the way of things in a given community, there‘s little to stop you from setting out to live life as you, to literally make the world into what you want it to be. The chaos-matter can be shaped to meet most physical needs, there‘s no demand for farmers, cobblers, smiths, or any number of professions people take up in order to survive. A body can make their own food, tools, or home. You can choose to live on an island in the middle of a vast ocean, in a dense forest of tall trees and wild flowers, or among the stars of a night sky. Build a community with like-minded fellows or strike out on your own as you see fit. Individualism at its purest.
Hm? A fine question! With the option to live like a god, you‘d think there‘d be a lot more people making their way to Limbo. Ironically, most are scared off by the dangers of chaos-matter before realizing the potential it has. But more importantly, becoming proficient enough in chaos-shaping that you do not have to continually concentrate to maintain what you create requires years of dedicated training. As if the prospect of crafting your own world wasn‘t alluring enough, some people are just so reliant on the social constructs of their home community that they refuse to do what it takes to claim control of their lives! Sadly, not all of those who do accept the challenge are up to the task of constantly pondering subjective reality, and they simply lose a bit of sanity along the way. Ironically, such individuals tend to demonstrate amazing capability for chaos-shaping, even if they can‘t tell the difference between what is a figment of their own creation and what isn‘t. Perhaps they‘re better off that way. The Xaositects appear happy enough, and I‘ve often thought that might be how they got started. No, but we dislike them. Insane little vermin, constantly milling about trying to tear away pieces of our realm…
The greatest threat to living out one‘s days in a fantasyland, however, are the native beasts of the Limbo. The plane hosts a number of very dangerous creatures that will hunt others for food or sport, most of which are highly adaptive and natural chaos-shapers. Anyone that spends an extended in the wild has to be able to fend off monsters themselves or find strength in numbers, meaning that one has to be pretty resilient to hold onto a realm on their own. The slaadi are the most well-known and prevalent predators of the plane; there are even more of the accursed toad-men than Xaositects floating around in the wild, and they‘re equally likely to try and gnaw on your bones! Don‘t waste any time trying to strike up a conversation with one, slaadi see other creatures only as things to do what they want with. While they don‘t normally gang up on their prey, they love to travel in packs and will attack travelers or even entire colonies. The only recourse a realm has is to have a militia ready at all times for the inevitable assault.
How do I survive by myself? Oh, I was made a green slaad‘s meal ages ago. No matter, things have been on the up and up ever since. I can‘t explain to you how liberating it is to no longer be confined by a physical body. You never realize how much such things limit you until you‘re forced to give them up. Don‘t look so dour; embrace the freedom Limbo offers and you‘ll have an eternity to make a moon of your own!
Xaos (Outland Gate-Town)
By Alicia De’Morlina
Now here‘s a gate-town I can‘t even summarize. The place is linked to Limbo, and changes almost as fast. The city has many names: Xaos, or Axos, or Soxa, or AdeDaaga. It depends. On something. Maybe. Watch out for slaadi, as they‘re as like to chew your face off as they are to perform a street mime act for you. Or both. In addition, Xsao has no government, except when it has one. Actually, you’re in charge of Aoxs. Only not anymore.
Osxa has been about the same—which is to say, always changing—for as long as anyone can remember. Whether or not it‘s always been the same burg is another matter. Chant is Xaso has been constantly slipping back and forth between the Outlands and Limbo for ages, or that it‘s slipped into Limbo many times and been replaced by a different town. Given the it‘s propensity for constant change, and the fact that even its inhabitants change and possibly replicate, it all amounts to more or less the same thing.
You see that earthenware pot over there? The blue one? It‘s talking about you behind your back. Err…yeah, the place is barmy.
Characters can alter the environment in Limbo by making Intelligence checks, as per the 4e Manual of the Planes:
Move Object: Standard action.
✦ DC: The DC is based on the object’s size — Tiny or smaller, DC 5; Small or Medium, DC 10; Large, DC 15; Huge, DC 20; Gargantuan, DC 25.
✦ Success: You move an unattended object. You move the object 1 square, +1 square for every 5 points by which you beat the DC.
✦ Failure: You can’t try to move the same object until after a short rest.
Alter Object: Standard action.
✦ DC: The DC is based on the object’s size — Tiny or smaller, DC 20; Small or Medium, DC 25; Large, DC 30; Huge, DC 35; Gargantuan, DC 40.
✦ Success: You change an unattended natural object into a different element or energy of the same size. For example, change a boulder into a ball of fire.
✦ Failure: You can’t try to alter the same object until after a short rest.
Stabilize Area: 1 minute.
✦ DC: The DC is 5 + 1 per square affected.
✦ Success: You lock an area into its current form for 24 hours. Double the area or the duration for every 5 points you beat the DC by.
✦ Failure: You can’t try to stabilize an area until after an extended rest.
Alter Area: 1 minute.
✦ DC: The DC is 20 + 1 per square affected. Add +10 to the DC if the area has been stabilized (see above). Double the area or the duration for every 5 points by which you beat the DC.
✦ Success: You change the terrain of an area for 24 hours. For example, change a bare rocky plain into a forest.
✦ Failure: You can’t try to alter an area until after an extended rest.