I’m done reading Planescape and while I love the setting’s potential, I was rather irritated by the late 90′s “Storytelling is a better way to Roleplay” philosophy that permeates every DMing paragraph of the product and still does in some circles.
The original Planescape setting basically tells DMs that using the Setting for interplannar dungeon crawling is a less than ideal way of using the product… many times…. I tell you, so what?
Here’s a suggestion to all game designers (the Silvervine crew included) that wish to have the widest possible audience. Make Storytelling and Narrating an option of your game… not its de-facto philosophy. At the very least, please don’t try to make a point about the relative merits of that style of play over others.
I truly believe that excellent storytelling can happen in any RPG systems where players are engaged by the setting enough to want to interact with it. It just doesn’t need to be repeated ad nauseam in the game’s text, GM hints and adventure design notes.
Imposing Storytelling/Shared Narration as ‘better’ or as ‘necessary” makes me and probably a significant portion of the crunchier market go hostile on the product.
So if I ignore the suggested DMing philosophy, I can totally embrace a setting where beliefs shape reality and organization formed around these beliefs. I have yet to read the 3.5 adaptation over at Planewalker.com which might mend my negative feelings.
I’ve decided to adopt the Planescape world (i.e. the Factions, the beliefs can shape reality idea, the frontier towns, etc) whenever the characters will leave Ptolus on outer-planar missions. I will not focus on one huge aspect of it though… Sigil.
With Ptolus taking a larger part of the player’s fledging story-lines, I don’t wish to introduce a second city with different locales and organizations. Instead, since my Homebrewed world is currently recuperating from a wide-scale alignment-based war, I’ve made Ptolus into a planar nexus and am placing numerous Sigil-like portals throughout it. I’m also adapting various Sigil organizations and NPCs to Ptolus.
As suggested by one reader in our forum, I’ll move the various faction headquarters into the Outland frontier-towns or within the actual planes where the core philosophies originated (and possibly open branches in Ptolus).
Sigil will remain a reality but I’ll probably find a plot-related reason why the Lady of Pain wants to keep the character out of it… (probably something about Cixi’s origins and peculiarities). I mean the parallel between Ptolus’s Spire and the Outland one is just too strong an image to ignore.
I also needed a published Planescape-friendly adventure for level 9 PCs that would take up to the summer break…
Well it just happens that I own the principal Planescape-themed D&D 3.5 adventure… an adventure that I both hate and love at the same time. An adventure written by none-other than my Nemesis!
Yeah, that one…
I would never have considered playing it up to 2 months ago… However, since hacking the Seeds of Sehan Adventures, a rather average, if not downright mediocre series , mechanically speaking, I’ve grown more confident in my capacity to shape an adventure to my tastes.
Sounds like a new DM challenge doesn’t it? Stay tuned for my battle plan!
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