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Todd Stewart wrote:

Because, lowly freelancer though I may be, I need to be like all of the cool kids with one of these threads all my own!

...and my brain needs a break from planning horrors and wonders to throw at my players in a campaign I'm starting soon, so consider the floor open for any questions.

:D

Oh thank you sir! I'll just copy and paste the initial post I made in the wrong thread.

------------------------------
So I'm getting ready to run a one shot campaign that I hope to make into a 3 part, or more. I've got some of the stuff down, but I'm running into an issue with some of the locations and stat blocks.

Campaign setting is basically a small party of evil PC's have been tasked by Garyon to infiltrate Nirvana and place "The Great Lie" in the heart of Eritrice's domain. I've expanded on her lore so that she's secretly and unknowingly a rogue avatar of Garyon, possessing a sizable chunk of his power, and he wants to reclaim it now that he's aware of it. To do this, he has the PC's plant the great lie, which is in the form of a black rose, in her Garden of Truth.

Problem is there's very little information on most of the sub area's in Elysium and Nirvana, and I want to give some life to the zone. I'm avoiding the whole "bust down the wall and slaughter the villagers" stereotype but I want the party to have opportunities to commit acts that will please Garyon. I've got an alarm level system built for it, where each act they do can gain favor with the arch devil, lose favor if they fail, and raise the level of awareness that the denizens of the planes have. To make this work though, I really need some more information on the areas within the zone. I've been drawing most of my info from Inner Sea God's, Chronicles of the Righteous and Pathfinder Chronicles: The Great Beyond, but you'd be surprised at how little there is.

Can anyone give me some details on any of the locations on the map in Elysium/Nirvana, or just the ones listed on the wiki? I've got a few months before I want to run it.

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Grandis wrote:


Can anyone give me some details on any of the locations on the map in Elysium/Nirvana, or just the ones listed on the wiki? I've got a few months before...

The odd thing about Elysium is that while I wrote all of the original content on the plane in The Great Beyond, I've basically almost never used it in my home game. While I do have more content that never made it into print, as I mentioned on the other thread, I don't feel comfortable sharing that material as it risks creating quasi-canon content, and only the published material should be what exists as a baseline.

That said I'm perfectly cool with sharing material that I created exclusively for my home game, which doesn't exactly always play according to canon anyway. Use, discard, adapt, etc to your heart's content.

Elysium:

Forest of Wild Apples and Wilder Magic - Imagine a magical forest of all manner of apple trees that operates very similarly to how the NG plane in Planescape (Elysium just to confuse everyone now) operated with respect to non-natives. Evil folks would find that the plane simply shifted the landscape around them as they moved, ensuring that they could never actually find anyone to harm (or at least not anyone weak enough to harm, but it might happily lead them into a grouping of more powerful celestials happy to protect their lesser kindred). I also had the entire place under the effect of roving zones of wild magic, complete with an expanded wild magic table. The place wasn't actually populated by azata however, but primarily by faerie dragons (and I tend to give faerie dragons wish 1/day, but they usually use it for stupid things, like summoning apples, or apple pie, or apple strudel, or magic apple brandy, etc you get the point).

Wandering City of Emerald Song - Take a ren faire, make it the size of manhatten, give everyone magic, and have it be run by lillend azata who obsess over creating all manner of artwork/song/crafts/etc and have the place attract similarly minded people from across the planes. There might be lots of other azata, some other celestials, a few rare demons, gobs of proteans, lots of ganzi, lots of more chaotic sorts of aasimar and tieflings, and mortals of all stripes.

Nirvana:

I've gotten decent use out of Nirvana almost entirely because the agathions are basically anthropomorphic animals, and more than one of my players has been a furry and just gotten a kick out of them. Vulpinals exist for instance because one of my players wanted to have an aasimar with fox features, so I made vulpinals to facilitate that.

In my home game I placed Old Mage Jatembe in the Hall of Slumbering Kings in very much an analog of the real world folklore of Frederick Barbarossa asleep under a mountain, waiting for when the world would need him to return. In my home game Jatembe had removed himself from the world voluntarily as the only way to break free of the hideous but necessary bargain that he had struck with the primordial, god-like, and antithetical being Tegresin the Laughing Fiend (for which Tegresin was beyond infuriated, even thousands of years later). It was an open question for the PCs if they could manage to break that bargain somehow and restore Jatembe's freedom, or if they would essentially take up Jatembe's legacy and follow his advice on what they needed to do for their own quest (which of course was intimately linked to Tegresin as well).

I also have always wanted to utilize the Isle of the Penitent in Nirvana, especially if I managed to use it in some capacity to redeem a campaign villain, or even better yet to redeem an evil PC. But other than some vague musings on doing just that in my home game, I never actually got the chance as my last campaign ended prematurely, and then I went back to school full-time, again, leaving me precious little time to run another campaign of my own for the moment.

I've also straight up ported material from Planescape's NG Elysium into Pathfinder's Nirvana, and material from Planescape's CG Arborea into Pathfinder's Elysium. A good bit of thematic inspiration was derived from Planescape when I worked on Pathfinder's planes, but nothing stops you (or me!) from adapting content from there directly for use in our own home games.


(The argument was more nuanced than that, but that particular line of reasoning was a specific statement that was bandied about several times, and I realized, literally just now, that I could, you know, ask you. Whhhhoops~!)


Hey, quick question: when you designed the planes, did you intend for PF's afterlife to be a kind of cosmic horror?

I ask because a very detailed discussion/argument broke out a bit ago, and, while I stated that it was not designed to be cosmic horror (noting that it had "cosmic horror" of sorts within it - notably the evil-aligned planes/gods - but that this did not qualify for "cosmic horror" as a system or by design), I realized I could just get a definitive answer either way from you, who, you know, actually built it, instead of just trying to talk as if I actually knew what you intended when you wrote stuff.

(Sorry, by the way, for making such a definitive statement about your intent without asking, first. I, uh... passionate nerd. My bad.)


Spamming, because Paizo is doing a weird thing were I can't see my previous posts, even though I know they're there: this isn't a request to "VALIDATE ME~!" or any such. I recognize how I could be quite wrong - it's possible for the intent to be a cosmic horror on a macro scale, rather than on an individual one, and I get that (this is especially true with your love of all-things daemon). Mostly, I'm just kind of seeking your intent on the idea, as a whole, regardless of what it was. Thanks!

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Tacticslion wrote:

Hey, quick question: when you designed the planes, did you intend for PF's afterlife to be a kind of cosmic horror?

I ask because a very detailed discussion/argument broke out a bit ago, and, while I stated that it was not designed to be cosmic horror (noting that it had "cosmic horror" of sorts within it - notably the evil-aligned planes/gods - but that this did not qualify for "cosmic horror" as a system or by design), I realized I could just get a definitive answer either way from you, who, you know, actually built it, instead of just trying to talk as if I actually knew what you intended when you wrote stuff.

(Sorry, by the way, for making such a definitive statement about your intent without asking, first. I, uh... passionate nerd. My bad.)

Keep in mind that while I did write a very large amount of early planar content for Pathfinder, and a substantial amount afterwards, this isn't a one person thing and a whole lot of folks have contributed and refined/elaborated on various things along the way up to now, and all of them have added some amazing stuff. :)

For starters though, how would you define the idea of PF's afterlife being "a kind of cosmic horror"? You can answer that for me and I'll talk more, but let me just ramble about the general topic of PF's afterlives for a bit and see if that clarifies anything on its own.

Just keep in mind that they went to the person who'd written over 2k pages of fanfic about D&D yugoloths and often yugoloth influenced Planescape published stuff for D&D, and asked me to write the cosmology up and then expand on the cosmology in a book of its own. You certainly get what you paid for, knowing what my thematic playground was (and continues to be I suppose - though I've made a bigger impact on PF's Chaotic Neutral outsiders and the Maelstrom I think).

A number of different influences came into play with the nature of the afterlife and how various petitioners are handled. The baseline desire I think was to keep things generally familiar to anyone who played 3.5 D&D, so a lot of assumptions and tropes from the Great Wheel cosmology were there running the background. I know that I incorporated a -ton- of inspiration from classic 2e Planescape, with the outer planes reflecting the nature of the souls drawn to them, and what you experience therein reflects your alignment and resultantly your actions in life. Of course PF's planes deviate from Planescape in that PS's "belief shapes reality" isn't an overt thing, among other tweaks.

But yeah, when I worked on content there's a ton of Planescape influence, but oftentimes it's my own perhaps idiosyncratic take on Planescape, which my own players once described as "using D&D rules to run a game of Call of Cthulhu".

So about that whole cosmic horror thing you know...? XD

I do try to play up the planes as places of extremes of manifest beauty, horror, wonder, and terror, and above all they can be genuinely alien to mortals. This is probably most typified by Abaddon, the Maelstrom, and the Positive and Negative Energy Planes (since I've gotten to write the majority of the content for both of them over the years and have had a truly wonderful experience doing so that I'm thankful for). Abaddon is a black furnace of oblivion where those selfish souls consigned there are mostly devoured except for the fraction of them that turn upon their horrified fellow hunted and in doing so becomes daemons themselves. In two polar opposites, prey and predator, they are their own alignment and what it preys upon.

Hell of course (in gorgeous detail that Wes Schneider provided in BotD Vol 1) is modeled after Hell/Baator from D&D but has its own spin on things. The punishment and punishers motif from D&D and its own source material in the Divine Comedy and others is preserved and built upon. Every LE soul thinks itself fit to rule, but in the end Hell has only limited seats from which to rule above the suffering masses, and the most terrible rise to the top.

The Abyss in PF is very similar to the Planescape Abyss, being a "Darwinian Nightmare" of every soul sent there violently seeking to empower itself at the expense of all others, at the expense of all rules, and even at the expense of itself.

Then you've got things like the kytons/velstracs who are a beautiful re-imagining of the D&D chain devils with an absolutely overt inspiration from the cenobites of Hellraiser. One might from the outside think the souls sent to their "care" are in a hell of a different variety, tortured for all eternity by beings seeking to help them ever more expand their sensations and beautifully debase themselves beyond rational comprehension. Those same souls who willingly embrace that end might want precisely that and they might enter that bargain with wide open eyes, mouths watering, begging please, and understanding that it never ends and there is no safe word.

Each of the various planes have their own conceptions of the afterlife and what it should be, each with their own different sources of inspiration building upon a general basic background of 3.5 D&D.


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You have very adequately listed “cosmic horror” as being “within the system” as I expected it. As I am not making the argument that the system itself is fundamentally a cosmic horror, I can’t really speak for such, but it was my impression (note the ambiguity and uncertainty in my statement!) that the entirety of the afterlife was intended as a kind of grand “cosmic horror” conceit due to the loss of the sense of “self” as the living being defined it (which I posited wasn’t that horrifying by inherent nature nor was the more “good aligned” planes intended as a “horror” though “death” is always tragic) and lack of choice over your own fate in the afterlife (which I posited was non-horrific as it was the natural flow of your own choices within life effectively being respected - akin to complaining about gravity being unjust/horrific, which someone promptly did). Again, I’m not a great one to define the argument I wasn’t making - I may return to the thread to read responses to my last post (which I avoided for lack of time) and try to get back to you, but that’s what I’ve got so far. (There is more, but I don’t be want to drag you into a nerd argument - I was mostly just trying to hear from the Horse’s mouth, as of were, as much as possible - thank you!).


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The Withered Footsteps of the Dire Shepherd is the oldest book with information on daemons according to Volume 3 of Book of the Damned.

According to Undead Revisited, Devourers speak of an entity known as the Dire Shepherd.

Devourers and daemons are both known for consuming souls.

In Planar Adventures there is a black sphere on the Negative Energy Plane known as Eternity's Doorstep. The sphere is described as "...an overwhelming sense of something staring back at them: ancient, powerful, and utterly malevolent." reminds me of a certain daemon, aka the Oinodaemon.

Furthermore, a group of Devourers travel to Eternity's Doorstep to pray and whisper the word "Shepherd".

Eternity's Doorstep devourers the souls of undead.

The Negative Energy Plane is the antithesis of positive energy and therefore souls which are made from positive energy. Daemons of course hate souls.

The eclipsed star over Abanddon is rumored to be the Oinodaemon's eye.

It's all connected, but how?

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Et cetera et cetera wrote:

The Withered Footsteps of the Dire Shepherd is the oldest book with information on daemons according to Volume 3 of Book of the Damned.

According to Undead Revisited, Devourers speak of an entity known as the Dire Shepherd.

Devourers and daemons are both known for consuming souls.

In Planar Adventures there is a black sphere on the Negative Energy Plane known as Eternity's Doorstep. The sphere is described as "...an overwhelming sense of something staring back at them: ancient, powerful, and utterly malevolent." reminds me of a certain daemon, aka the Oinodaemon.

Furthermore, a group of Devourers travel to Eternity's Doorstep to pray and whisper the word "Shepherd".

Eternity's Doorstep devourers the souls of undead.

The Negative Energy Plane is the antithesis of positive energy and therefore souls which are made from positive energy. Daemons of course hate souls.

The eclipsed star over Abanddon is rumored to be the Oinodaemon's eye.

It's all connected, but how?

Whether you're a GM or a freelancer, there's always a certain sublime joy when someone notices and connects hints that have been scattered through multiple episodes of a campaign or through multiple (not necessarily overtly connected) books.

I could say more. Of course I could. But two things:

1) Given the sincere (and intentional) mystery and ambiguity here I don't wish to pin down a singular answer here because it would place restrictions on both myself in the future or other freelancers in the future if they touched on any of these topics and either weren't aware of my intent or desired to deviate from any unpublished intentions, which is always an option.

2) I could tell, but I won't, because that would be telling. ;)


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Tegresin the Laughing Fiend fits in here too, perhaps he's the one who corrupts spellcasters into Devourers.

Also I believe the Oinodaemon and the Dire Shepherd are one in the same.

I'm also going to go out on a limb and say that Eternity's Doorstep is part of the Oinodaemon, somehow.

Can I at least get some tantalizing hints to add metaphorical gasoline to my conspiratorial fire? You know you want to...

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Et cetera et cetera wrote:

Tegresin the Laughing Fiend fits in here too, perhaps he's the one who corrupts spellcasters into Devourers.

Also I believe the Oinodaemon and the Dire Shepherd are one in the same.

I'm also going to go out on a limb and say that Eternity's Doorstep is part of the Oinodaemon, somehow.

Can I at least get some tantalizing hints to add metaphorical gasoline to my conspiratorial fire? You know you want to...

This is one of those points where I, as a freelancer, can't really speculate beyond the content that has appeared in print. I certainly have an answer for those points -within the scope of my home game where I'm using this same content- but I really can't get into that here because it runs the risk of creating a stratum of pseudo-canon.

Was there a link (of some sort) alluded to between the Oinodaemon, the Withered Footsteps of the Dire Shepherd, the 'Dire Shepherd' that devourers will have rambling conversations with when alone (along with other entities), and Eternity's Doorstep (and the devourers who congregate there and pray to the 'Shepherd'): yes absolutely, among other things in print.

But until I have the opportunity to explore that connection more (or someone else does of course) I won't be giving such answers as I'm not a Paizo employee, so any such answers would be speculation.

Of course it -is- something that I'd like to explore more, so if you want to see me do so in print, by all means, please email Paizo or post on the boards that you want me to have that opportunity at some point in PF2! :D


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

How many words do you think you've written for the Storyhour so far?

(I'm working on compiling it all into one doc, so we may actually know in the near future)

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FallenDabus wrote:

How many words do you think you've written for the Storyhour so far?

(I'm working on compiling it all into one doc, so we may actually know in the near future)

Looking through the various documents in that folder, and only including the storyhour proper and not all of the slew of side stories taking place in the background within the same timeline and universe of the storyhour, my quick wordcount:

805,320

Wow.

Add in all the other stories and maybe even SH2 within the same universe and we're well over 1 million words. Imagine if I'd ever been paid for that. LOL.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Todd Stewart wrote:
FallenDabus wrote:

How many words do you think you've written for the Storyhour so far?

(I'm working on compiling it all into one doc, so we may actually know in the near future)

Looking through the various documents in that folder, and only including the storyhour proper and not all of the slew of side stories taking place in the background within the same timeline and universe of the storyhour, my quick wordcount:

805,320

Wow.

Add in all the other stories and maybe even SH2 within the same universe and we're well over 1 million words. Imagine if I'd ever been paid for that. LOL.

Even at my freelancing payrate, that is a lot of money! And I suspect your's is significantly better than mine after all these years XD

Oh, on that note though, did the Demented Cycle ever make it to a new safe refuge when the WotC boards went down? All the links to them I've found recently are dead.

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FallenDabus wrote:


Oh, on that note though, did the Demented Cycle ever make it to a new safe refuge when the WotC boards went down? All the links to them I've found recently are dead.

These links to google docs should hopefully work

The Architect: link

The Dire Shepherd: link

The Wanderer: link

The Blind Clockmaker: link

The Flesh Sculptor: link

The Inquisitor: link

The Chronicler: link

The Lie Weaver: link

The Proselytizer: link

The Book Binder: link

The remaining in-progress stories include The Dream Reaver, The Ineffable, and The Shackler


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You are awesome Todd! Thanks!


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i adore erum-hel and your article on him in undead unleashed. while i have my own ideas as to how i may or may not integrate him, i wanted to ask you, todd, what do you think erum-hel was up to during the events of tyrant's grasp?


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Hello, Mr. Stewart. I'm having a bit of trouble deciding on what to use for the ringmaster of an extraplanar traveling circus. Do you have any suggestions?

(Suggestions for circus members/acts outside the ringmaster also welcome, of course.)

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Axxeor wrote:
i adore erum-hel and your article on him in undead unleashed. while i have my own ideas as to how i may or may not integrate him, i wanted to ask you, todd, what do you think erum-hel was up to during the events of tyrant's grasp?

Given his power, utility, and previous faithful servitude to Tar-Baphon, it seems absolutely bizarre that the Whispering Tyrant didn't have him there when he sought to lay siege to Absalom. Clearly something is up.

My absolutely non-canon answer here is that Erum-Hel, in the Whispering Tyrant's absence has become absolutely consumed by his desire for revenge on Iomedae: an obsession absolutely out of his reach. This was in Undead Unleashed, and I would posit that it has grown such that it actually superseded the Whispering Tyrant's call to renewed service.

At the same thing, with the suggestion that Erum-Hel has been collecting objects and relics related to failed Starstone aspirants, you can absolutely bet that Erum-Hel was watching and following Tar-Barphon's progress and ultimately his failure, trying to learn for his own eventual potential attempt.

Still, it's only a matter of time before Tar-Barphon learns that Erum-Hel is still extant and tries to take control over his former servitor.


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Belltrap wrote:

Hello, Mr. Stewart. I'm having a bit of trouble deciding on what to use for the ringmaster of an extraplanar traveling circus. Do you have any suggestions?

(Suggestions for circus members/acts outside the ringmaster also welcome, of course.)

I suppose it depends on the theme of the circus? Are the participants willing? Is it evil or otherwise? Perhaps a brutal efreet or dashingly handsome diabolic ringmaster? An erinyes in a traditional ringmaster's outfit would be snazzy. If good aligned, a troupe of lillends from the Wandering City of Emerald Song strikes me as absolutely on-brand. And I can see a single imentesh protean ring-master herding about a faux-chorus of azuretzi 'mockery-wyrms' who take on the forms of another circus's members and doing their own thing.


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Amber_Stewart wrote:
An erinyes in a traditional ringmaster's outfit would be snazzy.

So, basically Zatanna with wings, then.

I'd be game!

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