To Chance with Hell (Planescape)
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Much of the information on these pages are reproduced with permission from the Planewalker Planescape 3.0/3.5 Campaign Setting. Please visit their homepage for more information. See the Credits page.
This game will use the original “nine” alignments, rather than the slightly five 4e alignments. these alignments fall on two axis, as follows:
Lawful → Neutral → Chaotic
Good → Neutral (Unaligned) → Evil
These two axis represent your character’s philosophy towards order (whether your character believes that there should be a pattern to the universe, or none at all), and towards themselves and others (does helping others matter, or should it be everyone for themselves?). Neither axis is more important than another in the world of Planescape; philosophies are understood to require a level of flexibility in order to survive.
Unlike traditional D&D settings that stress the importance of “good” over “evil”, in Planescape it is expected that a Lawful Good character will find as much in common with a Lawful Evil character as he would a Chaotic Good character. Additionally, players must remember that complete differences in alignment/philosophies need not prevent interaction between two individuals; as the saying goes, opposites do attract, and many do like a good debate as to the nature of the Multiverse. In fact, debates about law and chaos are tend to be more common than those between questions of good and evil!
Despite this, factions tend to shy away from Chaotic Evil; perhaps this represents simply represents that a “Chaotic Evil” philosophy is simply poor at gathering support amongst the masses, or perhaps it represents that Chaotic Evil characters tend to be poor at driving towards a particular goal.
A character’s alignment must be in line with their faction; a “lawful good” character has no chance of truly grasping the philosophy of the Xaositects, nor could a “chaotic evil” character truly understand the concepts of the Harmonium. Not all factions have a philosophy that requires a particular alignment, but most do. For quick reference, here is the alignment requirements of each faction, along with what the typical alignment will be:
The Athar: any (tendency towards chaotic neutral)
The Bleak Cabal: non-lawful only (tendency towards chaotic good)
The Doomguard: any (tendency towards lawful neutral)
The Dustmen: any (tendency towards neutral evil)
The Fated: non lawful-good only (tendency towards neutral good)
The Fraternity of Order: non-chaotic only (tendency towards lawful neutral)
The Free League: any (tendency towards true neutral)
The Harmonium: lawful, non-evil only (tendency towards lawful good)
The Mind’s Eye: any (tendency towards true neutral)
The Revolutionary League: non-lawful only (tendency towards chaotic neutral)
The Ring-Givers: any (tendency towards chaotic good)
The Society of Sensation: any (tendency towards true neutral)
The Sodkillers: Non-good, non-chaotic only (tendency towards lawful evil)
The Sons of Mercy: Good only (tendency towards neutral good)
The Transcendent Order: Neutral (Unaligned) only (tendency towards true neutral)
The Xaositects: Chaotic only (tendency towards chaotic neutral)
Expanded skill use
While all skills listed in the PHB function as normal, some of the ones listed will be expanded in use to cover some of the unique situations you would find in the Planescape universe. Additionally, some skills will be expanded to include additional situations.
When appropriate, skills also have an additional “profession” a character can perform that can give them a bit of extra income. A player may pick one of these professions to represent what your character does when left to their own devices (i.e., during downtime). A character does not need to be trained in a skill to perform a profession (although one would earn more money if one was).
To earn money in their trade, players can spend 8 hours working, and then make an appropriate skill check (once per day only). The result equal the number of silver pieces that the character earns for that days work.
Tumble (move action, trained only): Weaving into a better position can always be a benefit to a wily adventurer. Make an acrobatics check with a DC equal to 15 + half your level. If successful, you can shift half your speed. During this shift, you move through enemy squares, although you cannot end your movement in an enemy square.
Find Portal (1 minute, trained only): Navigating through the planes sometimes requires some emergency measures. With this skill, a character can attempt to see if there is a portal within a number of squares equal to 5 + your level, with DC equal to 20 + one-half the level of the portal value. This use only gives a character a general direction of a portal; they will still need to discover where the portal is located, and without a proper key, a portal may not become visible. If multiple portals are within range, it is possible that multiple may be detected.
Browbeat (Standard action in combat, or part of a skill challenge): A character can use their body language to make an check very similar to an Intimidate check, except the opposed check is Athletics versus Fortitude. Browbeat does not require your character to speak a language your target understands, but you cannot intimidate more than one target at once. Browbeat may cause a bloodied target to surrender, but any information obtained is likely to be unreliable since the target will likely say anything to avoid punishment.
Like the Intimidate skill, Unfriendly targets get a +5 bonus to their Fortitude Defense, and Hostile targets gain a +10 bonus to their Fortitude Defense. You cannot Browbeat a target you have failed to Browbeat until a new encounter, or after five minutes have passed. Browbeating someone is a hostile action, and may provoke an unintended response.
As the skill in the PHB, but you may perform a feint as a minor action by taking a -5 penalty to your Bluff check.
No change; Diplomacy remains a strong and overall useful skill.
Recall Creature Knowledge (trained only): While Dungeoneering makes a character a specific expert on aberrant creatures, good adventurers know that anything can happen once you move below the surface. Characters with the Dungeoneering skill therefore pick up little bits of information from everywhere. A character with the Dungeoneering skill can take a -5 penalty to his check to substitute Dungeoneering for a different knowledge skill (i.e. Arcana, Nature, etc.). This use can be used to help identify creatures only. Dungeoneering may not be used this way in a skill challenge to substitute in for a different skill.
No new uses, but as a note many Planes are naturally very hazard to a person’s health. Endurign the atmosphere in many planes will require regular Endurance checks without proper protection… if protection exists.
Autopsy (5 minutes, trained only): Sometimes identifying what killed a victim can be difficult. In those cases, the Heal skill can be used to help identify what caused the death of a creature. The DC of such a check is equal to DC 10 + the level of creature, poison, disease, or whatever otherwise killed the victim. A successful autopsy will reveal roughly how it has been since the creature was killed, although such an estimate is really an estimated guess (a high Heal check will allow a character to better narrow the window of death). The DC of this check may increase depending on numerous factors, most typically due to unusual conditions that may have distributed the body, as well as if it has been a while (a week or more) since the victim has died.
Recall General Knowledge (trained only): knowledge of History often overlaps with numerous other bits of knowledge. A character with the History skill can take a -5 penalty to his check to substitute History for a different knowledge skill (i.e. Arcana, Nature, etc.). This use can be used for general knowledge only, and cannot be used to identify creatures. History may not be used this way in a skill challenge to substitute in for a different skill.
Intuit Logic: sometimes there are many pieces of a puzzle out there, but how they fit together isn’t so clear. Other times, the motivations that someone has are unclear. In those situations, a player may attempt to roll an Insight check in order to try and make things a little clearer. The DC will equal to 1/2 the level of the target or situation, +5 for easy connections (Occum’s Razor in action), +10 for moderate connections (not immediately apparent), and +15 for hard connections, leaps of logic that would very difficult to make.
Threatening Stance (Minor Action, trained only): Sometimes the best defenses is a good ol’ stink eye. A character can make an opposed check (Intimidate versus Will) versus one hostile target. If successful, that target cannot move in such a way that would put it closer to the intimidating character on its next turn. A creature may only be targeted by Threatening Stance once per encounter.
Expanded usage: While Nature checks are generally used to help navigate through “wilderness” areas, traditional “wilderness” terrain tends to be few and far between on the planes. Players may use the Nature skill to help identify environmental hazards on planes, and use this skill to help them survive on planes that support some semblance of ecosystem that can help sustain them or other individuals. Some planes, such as the Elemental Plane of Fire, do not support life to the degree that an individual could “live off the land” (barring some unusual circumstances), but a Nature check can potentially help a character determine some defenses against such harsh environments.
No change. Almost unarguably the best skill in the game.
Expanded usage: While gods are certainly more “touchable” in the Planescape setting, they focus more of their time on the Prime Material planes; clashes of religions tend to be more rare, especially given that there are not a dozen gods, but hundreds of gods vying for status in the multiverse. Rather than knowing about particular religions (although this skill remains to do just that), Religion may be used to make knowledge checks, this skill can help with knowledge checks about the various factions and/or their philosophy. This skill however, will not allow a character to identify another person, despite knowing their faction (that would be a Streetwise check).
Blend Into a Crowd (1 minute, or as part of a skill challenge): Sometimes surviving in Sigil means laying low. A creature can use this skill, making an opposed check: Stealth versus Insight. If successful, the character can blend him or herself and up to four other creatures into the “scenery”, allowing them to escape the notice of other individuals. A failure doesn’t mean that another party cares that you’re there, but they will at least be aware of your presence, making any sort of “first strike” difficult. Causing any sort of flashy or loud disturbance may require the player to make another opposed check, potentially with a penalty.
Identify Persons (Knowledge check): A Streetwise skill will allow a character to identify various things about an individual. At low DCs, it might identify a character’s profession, whereas at high DCs or with particularly (im)famous individuals, it might tell the player who they are, and what they’re known for.
No change. Remains a powerful — but limited — skill.