Wednesday, August 21, 2013

In Which The Warlock Tosses in Everything (Including the Kitchen Sink!)

(Aside:  Have you entered into my 400th entry contest yet?  Three simple questions might be all that's keeping you from a PDF prize pack!  Deadline is September 1st!)

This summer has been somewhat brutal on my gaming schedule.  In addition to our usual convention circuit, two of our usual crew have been finishing up their doctoral degrees, which has put a damper on our usual dice-slinging.  We've gotten in quite a few rounds of Sentinels of the Multiverse and Arkham Horror, but neither of those scratches that omnipresent itch to roleplay.
The Lady of Pain
Ruler of the City of Sigil

With ChaoticFrederick's 4e mini-campaign petering out, I offered to take up the reins for a foray into one of my favorite settings:  Planescape!  However, I decided to do something that flies in the face of traditional "game balance".  You see, I told my players that they could play anything they wanted, as long as they could relatively legally stat it up using d20 rules.

Most GMs, I'm sure, are slapping their heads right now.  And, truth be told, the usual suspects around my game table were taken slightly aback at the myriad of opportunities.  "Can I play Cthulhu?" one asked me.  "Why, yes.  Yes, you can.  Straight out of the book, even!" I replied, as I passed them the d20 Call of Cthulhu book.  "Can I play a Pokemon master?" another retorted.  "Sure.  Go for it," I responded.

Don't tell my players this, but their actual choices in character aren't going to matter much in the scope of the ongoing campaign.  Not to say that they won't have massive input (and plot hooks) hanging on their characters, but rather that the nature of Planescape's oddity will let them fit into the City of Doors with no ill effects at all.  Plus, it gives me a chance to flex my GMing acumen by accommodating a party of wild diversity in terms of both mechanics and background.

So, what did my intrepid players end up choosing?  Let's have a look, shall we?

  • A time-manipulating child, claiming to hail from the Lost City of Carcosa, which was drowned beneath the waves of Lake Hali.  With an air of innocence, he claims to know nothing of the sanity-blasting horrors which overtook that dread city in the name of The Yellow Sign. (Level 8)
  • A massively powerful centaur scout stricken inexplicably with amnesia, now following a pseudo-Buddhist philosophy of balance, passivity, and non-violence. (Level 26)
  • A shifter bard, alternating between charm and grace and phenomenal martial arts prowess, varying only on the beast within her. (Level 7)
  • Queen Lilioukalani, the last queen of Hawai'i, gifted with Pele's blessing to control fire and lava.  Lilioukalani believes herself to be the very embodiment of Pele herself:  a goddess given mortal form. (Level TBD)
  • Jim Bob, a non-descript farmer...who may have a unique destiny all his own. (Level 2)
My intent is to run "rings around the ring"--one session featuring each Sigil's noted factions, culminating with a chance to escape The Cage, while simultaneously providing a grand tour of Sigil itself.

What do you think, friends and neighbors?  Am I mad?  Am I biting off more than I can chew?  Time will tell, I suppose!


  1. Anonymous7:14 PM

    Sounds like a recipe for zany good times! That is, just so long as the players stay focused on in-game goals and don't concern themselves with leveling up. It sounds like your players are all on the same page.

    D20 does seem like an odd choice for this type of 'anything goes' game. Was that your choice because it let's you use ready-made stats for NPCs?

  2. See, I have no issues with them leveling up, but the Level 2 Farmer is going to level up a ton faster than the ECL 26 Centaur!

    I used d20 for sheer amount of pre-made stats, especially considering the full conversion of Planescape over at Plus, it's what my players have the strongest rules-knowledge in. And, really? When running something in a D&D setting, I like to use a D&D rules-set. Something like Savage Worlds or the like just wouldn't fit.