Book of Elements (3.5e Sourcebook)/High Adventure on the Inner Planes
- 1 High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Air!
- 2 High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Earth!
- 3 High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Fire!
- 4 High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Water!
- 5 High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Ice!
- 6 High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Wood!
- 7 High Adventure in . . . The Negative Energy Plane!
- 8 High Adventure in . . . The Positive Energy Plane!
- 9 High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Shadow!
- 10 High Adventure. . . Across the Inner Planes!
High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Air!
The Plane of Air is a near-endless void with nothing but air, interspersed with solid or even liquid objects that you can build a habitat around. Unless the party consists entirely of Air Genasi and Airbodied, and the DM likes doing open-field encounters, most adventures on the Plane of Air will take place in some kind of construction or on some kind of island, usually both. Regardless, there are towns and dungeons in these places. Indeed, digging inside of them is the only way to actually get a reasonable defense, so there are actually a lot more dungeons per land area (nevermind volume) than there are on the Material Plane. Also, until the entire party has a way to fly, towns on the Plane of Air are a lot more confining than towns on the Material, but, thanks to sewers, old-town ruins, and the possibility of town adventures, this isn't necessarily as problematic as it could be.
Campaign Seed: King of the Hill
The Elemental Plane of Air is a huge place, and most of it is, essentially, empty. Habitable, if you want to move a habitat in, but empty. Interspersed throughout are places that actually are habiatable, either naturally formed through the oddities of the magic of the plane or interactions with other planes, or deliberately constructed in ages past. Since the Plane of Air is magically interesting, nigh-impossible to sneak up on someone in, and, like every Elemental Plane, has wish-granting natives, people from all over want to take these few spots where you can actually put your stuff, like food, swords, bags, and feet, down. Helping them, or resisting them, can be well worth any native's while. Maybe you can eventually get your own fortress, and from there go to an empire.
Campaign Seed: Seventh Sky
Since most denizens of the Plane of Air can't teleport, and those who can often aren't interested in moving large quanties of goods, and because of the way the winds work on the Plane of Air, there are actually specific trade routes for travel by dirigible. Further, the Djinn Sultanate isn't even fully united across the plane. That kind of trade draws the attention of pirates. There's a lot of coin to be made as either a pirate, a pirate hunter, or a legitimate trader. Of course, when someone else starts horning in on your trade routes, or you fall on hard times, the lines between legitimate trader and pirate can get a little blurry.
Successful pirates can even upgrade from a single ship to an armada to a great fleet as they capture more ships and fortresses. Once you have that, you're even legitimate, no longer a pirate, but an emperor. That's a dream any pirate can be proud of. You can even expand your empire into other planes, if that's your thing, or across the vastness of the Plane of Air.
Ten Low-level Adventures in the Plane of Air
- A flying ship's been seen travelling to nearby islands. Is it friend or foe? Someone must investigate.
- A hole opens up in the shelters beneath town, leading to older construction.
- Animals are eating the town's food supply, and the mayor thinks that this is a problem for the town's eaters. Deal with them or have a bunch of townspeople starve.
- A wizard from the Material Plane has sent agents to scout for possible places for an expanded lair. Drive them away to keep your town safe, or convince them to build here and reap the rewards of a growing town.
- A derelict dirigible has drifted within reach of your town. Does it have riches? Why was it abandoned? More importantly, is someone going to want it?
- The djinni who feeds a village has gone missing. Find her before the villagers starve.
- The light sources illuminating your town have both been eclipsed. There's some mischief planned for this artificial night, and you must stop it.
- Strange creatures have been coming out of the tunnels beneath the town. Too many of them to actually have been there.
- One of the townspeople has managed to make her first dirigible, with plans to build an entire shipyard. Gathering supplies for this falls to you.
- Once you have a shipyard, your town will suddenly be important. Go to the nearby towns and make sure that the political situation is favorable to your continued independence
Ten Mid-level Adventures in the Plane of Air
- A hurricane is coming for the town. It falls to you get everyone out before it hits, or loot the ruins.
- While out in the great void, you spot a strange metal platform floating in the void that you're sure you've never seen before. Is anyone home?
- A literal silver lining has been found in a nearby stormcloud, and the silver has potent magical properties. Gather as much as you can before someone else notices.
- A source venting a rare gas that is highly valued by magical researchers has arisen nearby.
- A noble djinni asks the PCs to recover its lost trophy McGuffin.
- The hold of the derilect dirigible is full of fine and highly specific trade goods of some kind. There's good money to be made in delivering them to the right destination.
- The hold is full of bushel after bushel of grain, all with the name of the same city stenciled on it. Someplace is going to starve without this.
- The hold is empty, but the manifest lists a hoard beyond dreaming. The captain's logbook is recorded in some kind of code, and the charts are all burned.
- The hold contains a chained efreeti, who claims that his entire family was taken by slavers and are still at the slavers' base. Is this a ruse?
- The hold has the entire crew in it, hidden in full battle gear, and they want your stuff.
Ten High-level Adventures in the Plane of Air
- An enormous storm too big to avoid is coming for the Court of Ice and Steel, and none of the weather mages the Court has can stop it, instead finding some force behind it. Save the Court, and win the eternal gratitude of the Sultan, or wrest control of it for yourself in the chaos.
- Some of the Djinn on the Court are taking bribes to work for the Efreet.
- A powerful artifact has been dropped into the plane's endless fall during a major battle between Djinn and Efreet.
- A Mephit claiming to be a messenger for a mighty Djinni oracle asks you to come immediately for a matter of the utmost importance and secrecy.
- The oracle needs a special reagent, and asks you to gather it in exchange for a prophecy.
- The oracle's been kidnapped! Find out who did it, and free the oracle!
- The oracle was kidnappped by Efreet! Track them down and make an example of them.
- Before the messenger can tell why it was sent, it is incinerated by a blast of fire from the distance. What was it trying to say, and who wants to keep you from hearing it?
- One of the fire leechings that serves as a sun has burned out. Find out why.
- A new sun has appeared in the sky. People say its a portal through which an Efreeti war fleet is coming. People say a lot of things.
High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Earth!
The Elemental Plane of Earth is a lot like Pandemonium, except quieter and with heavier, monodirectional gravity. If you look at the entire plane as a pack of dungeons that never open to the surface except for through portals, you wouldn't be wrong. The Plane of Earth has a lot of the same ecology as a deep dungeon on the material, except with more earth elementals. Like dungeons, people often go there to mine the plane. The elementals don't usually like that.
Because the two planes so alike, there are a whole lot of portals between the two, which provide a needed respite to people on both sides escaping the gravity on the Plane of Earth or the screaming on Pandemonium. And, really, who can blame them for either? On the Plane of Earth, you can't get a good night's sleep because it's like there's another you lying on your chest. On Pandemonium, you can't get a good night's sleep because of the plane's wailing and your buddy's screams as the ghasts rip him limb from limb. Who wouldn't want an escape from either?
Campaign Seed: Slave Revolt
The Great Dismal Delve is run on slavery and is constantly eroded by earthquakes, elementals bent on collapsing it, and the like. But it still has a number of still-standing abandoned areas, uninhabited or inhabited by squatters, where the dao don't know all the paths. It's into these paths that escaped slaves run. Since the dao are easily advanced by class levels and can call in favors from across the cosmos, a slave revolt or party of escaped slaves can easily have enemies through to the high levels, and naturally progress from running and hiding to an insurgency to building their own empire and toppling the Khan. A slave revolt also provides an excellent incentive for a party of extremely different alignments to work together.
Campaign Seed: Freeholds
The Elemental Plane of Earth is one of the most invaded elemental planes, because of its vast mineral wealth. Many of these mines are far from the mazes and mines of the Great Dismal Delve, and so have little need to care about the might of the genies being focused on them. Nearby genies are another matter, and their relations with freeholds can vary. Some are in a state of constant war, while some even manage to trade with the genies. Being hired as guards or negotiators at such a mine is a fully likely PC occupation. This gives PCs a rare window into how the monster tribes they find in dungeons actually interact with eachother, since these freeholds are kinda exactly the same thing. And it's not like the time between attacks is boring, either. A freehold can be anything from the domain of a tyrant, with its own associated plots, to an old west mining town crawling with prospectors looking for their big score, to a cursed necropolis held together by a single necromancer. Any one of these schemes is loaded with its own possibilities for town adventures even in times of relative peace.
Ten Low-Level Adventures in The Plane of Earth
The escaped slave tells you:
- She found a silver vein in her flight, but the tunnel caved in behind her. If you'll feed her, she'll show you the way.
- He's the vanguard of a large revolt. Give him the supplies they need, or they'll take them by force.
- A cave-in destroyed a small palace a short distance away.
- A new mine tunnel has breached your home, and there's a force of dao on the way.
- She knows of a group of escaped slaves lost in a nearby tunnel complex who will be thankful for any rescue.
- He's found a portal to another plane, but he can't tell which, in a cavern complex nearby.
- She saw a group of fire mephit traders lost in some tunnels behind her.
- Nothing, as he is stuck down by a curse as soon as his babbling becomes comprehensible. What was he stopped from saying?
- The dao are beginning excavations of a millenia-old fossil vault.
- There is a decree from the Ataman freeing the slaves of dao involved in a coup attempt. Infiltrating the palace could then have rich rewards.
Ten Mid-Level Adventures in The Plane of Earth
The freeholder wizard's emissary stands before you. His master has the map you need, and asks, in return:
- You must keep the dao away from his gem mines until he gets the stone he needs.
- That you assassinate her former business partner, a politically-connected dao, without pointing back to her.
- His son has been enslaved by the dao. Free him.
- His son has run off with a dao princess. Bring him back.
- Her daughter has been leading raids against the dao. Make sure that the dao reprisal doesn't affect her mining.
- Her daughter has been leading raids against the dao while disguised, and is rushing into an unwinnable ambush. Prevent her capture without letting on as to her identity.
- That you retrieve a McGuffin from the Xorn Tunnels.
- That you retrieve the heart of an elder earth elemental.
- The next cavern complex over from his freehold has a rich gem seam, but also has stone giants. Relocate them so that he can begin mining.
- The stone giants have agreed to serve her as mercenaries in exchange for a relic stolen by pandemonic bugbears. Procuring said relic falls to you.
Ten High-Level Adventures in The Plane of Earth
The vanquished Hetman lies at your feet, and says:
- "The Khan's tumens are already on their way. You'll be crushed soon enough."
- "You fools! You broke the archbeast's seal! You've doomed us all!"
- "You won't escape. The entire palace is rigged to collapse. Don't think your teleportation will save you."
- "As Gorthrakol foresaw . . . I don't envy your destiny."
- "Nathralax! By this one word, awaken, slumbering stones!"
- "Gorthrakol is doomed now. We were going to make him Khan, but with your accursed interference, that's gone."
- "Erythnul, may the slaughter I have given you on this day please you, as I am released to your embrace."
- "Wait! I know where the Balor's Rune is! Let me go, and I'll tell you everything!"
- "A pity I won't live to see your downfall. My spies have told me of three separate coup plots against you by your own lieutenants."
- "I will have my vengeance! You will regret your insolenccce-," with the rest cut off by the roaring of a calling portal and the echoing of a truename
High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Fire!
The Plane of Fire is actually a lot like the material plane as long as you're immune to damage from the planar traits somehow. That's not exactly hard, though, so adventuring on the Plane of Fire is actually quite feasible. Once that's out of the way, the big difference between the Plane of Fire and the material is that the entire place is a giant desert right up to the seashore, which isn't exactly rich in life itself since the sea is made of lava and liquid fire, and, unlike normal deserts, there's no greener pastures over the horizon, just an ocean on one end and a sheer drop into the void on the other. Occasionally there's an oasis where the elements interact in ways complex enough to give forth something interesting, and these areas are hotly contested. The main reason the place is habitable is because most of the residents don't need to eat and some of them can conjure food, leaving meals for those who do need them.
Campaign Seed: Sultan's Court
The City of Brass is one of the greatest seats of power on the planes. It is from there that an empire with outposts across an entire plane is ruled. Like every such institution, command is delegated to layers of nobles and bureaucrats, each with their own aims. Like the Hellish aristocracy that the Efreeti Sultanate is allied with, the court is a hotbed of intrigue. And, while the major power players in the court tend to be Efreet, they all need servants of every kind, especially the most overlooked. The largest group of mortals in service of the court are the Sultan's Jannissaries, but most of the courtiers have at least a few mortal agents to do things that they, for whatever reason, cannot. Many of these mortals take up active roles in the court, albeit behind the scenes, taking advantage of their ability to be overlooked. Riches beyond the wildest dreams of most mortals can be yours, if you can play the court's games right. Play it wrong, though, and you will quickly find yourself on the wrong end an efreeti's wrath.
Campaign Seed: Test of the Blazing Steppes
Far from the grand palaces of the City of Brass, the Efreet's grasp over the Plane of Fire is weak, and large wildernesses are full of fire elementals and all manner of fire beasts, forming a blasted desert where nothing can grow that is, itself, on fire. Still, it's scattered with towns that manage to get by. Here you can find towns run by efreeti exiles, halls of obsidian home to Azers, and salamander ports, separated by huge tracts of deadly wilderness home to Magmin and Mephit raiders, and scoured by marching armies of the Efreeti Sultanate. Survive and be tempered here, and you will become unstoppable.
Ten Low-Level Adventures in The Plane of Fire
The Salamander hisses at you, and says. . .
- "The road's closed for lava floes. You'll have to find another way."
- "Food? We don't keep any food here, mortal."
- "Hakeem sent me to find you. To tell you that you can't skip out on your debts that easily."
- "Hand over your water and fuel, or die!"
- "The boat won't be running until we can get water for the boilers."
- "Hakeem? He's already at sea. For the right price, I can take you to head him off. But I'll need a Darkwood log."
- "You're the ones they said would have the keys."
- "Wait. You're not Hakeem's soldiers. How did you get in here?!"
- "Which clan do you serve, Redscale or Blackscale? There is no third option."
- "This way! Quick! Before the Magmin see us!"
Ten Mid-Level Adventures in The Plane of Fire
Your contact looks around, to be sure that nobody sees you, and tells you in a whisper. . .
- The last caravan to an Efreeti outpost town rumored to be using undead to draw the Efreet's wishing power has gone missing.
- A bubble from the Plane of Wood has opened out in the steppes.
- A Sultanate War Fleet was launched to lay siege to a Salamander stronghold.
- A Sultanate War Fleet has been sent blindly into a Salamander trap.
- A scheming Malik sent his rival to knowingly lead a war fleet into a Salamander trap.
- Some Fire Giants have visited the markets in New Greenridge and bought up all the gems.
- Baatezu merchants have bought up all the slaves in New Greenridge.
- Xorn have been suspiciously thick in the Emberdune Mountains recently.
- The new dispatchee from the City of Brass wears the same ring as a recently-disgraced courtier.
- The Azers have managed to convince the devils defending the Efreeti stronghold to ignore their attack. The Efreet don't know.
Ten High-Level Adventures in The Plane of Fire
You've risked life and limb for this book. But the secrets within are worth it. They are. . .
- Exactingly specific prophecies by a long-vanished Efreeti seer, some of which have already come true.
- A geneology proving that the Sultan is illegitimate.
- Written in a language you don't recognize and immune to magical prying.
- The spell that was used to bind the Sultan's brother after a failed coup.
- A theory to the arrangement of the planes, suppressed by the gods.
- In the form of an epic poem full of references and metaphors, none of which are clear to you.
- A formula for a potion of immortality.
- The soul of a Pit Fiend, imprisoned on the pages.
- An entire world, bound within the pages of the book
- A map of the oldest portals in the City of Brass.
High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Water!
The Plane of Water is supposed to be one of the more hospitable elemental planes to humanoids, since water breathing is so easy to get. That's not even true in core, with the gravity mistake making the Plane of Air as easy to get around as it is. So the Plane of Water is actually a fair bit harder to live in, but much easier to get around in. None of this difficulty matters to people adventuring in it at low levels, since a campaign starting on water will just have a party made up entirely of water-breathers. You could even have fun with this, where adventures into the air are difficult because the mermaid can't swim there or whatever.
Regardless, it's a wide expanse of water with plenty to do. Compared to the other inner planes, travel is easier, since swimming is easier than slogging through pretty much any of the other elemental planes, and places are closer together, since things have an easier time growing in the empty regions of the Plane of Water than they do elsewhere, so it's fully possible for PCs to go far afield from first level. Unlike the energy planes and the plane of air, wherever you are on the plane of water is stable and can have stuff happen there. Unlike the plane of fire, wherever you are on the plane of water isn't in the middle of an empty, useless wasteland. Except that there's no surface anywhere, most places on the plane of water (barring acid seas and the like) are a lot like the shallows of material-planar oceans.
All of this makes the Plane of Water actually a happening place. A town can spring up in the plane of water and get everything it needs to grow into a thriving city, unlike pretty much all of the other elemental planes. Indeed, like how on Earth about 70% of your body is water, and about 70% of the world's surface is water, about 70% of the creatures and structures in the Inner Planes are on the Elemental Plane of Water. The big difference between that town on the plane of water, and another on the material plane, is that the town on the plane of water doesn't need to be anchored to anything that fixes it in place. Sure, it needs to be neutrally bouyant or hook itself onto something magical like elemental coral, but you can seriously grab your house, or your castle, or your city, harness it to your pack animals, and just move.
Building a permanent kingdom on the Plane of Water, then, is difficult. Anyone you're not presently watching can just take their stuff and go somewhere else overnight, and anywhere you aren't presently watching can have someone move in. With the limited sight ranges and the three-dimensionality of the plane, moving just a hundred yards one way or another can make a wilderness homestead disappear entirely for all the king cares. The standard therefore is to be required to pay taxes to the local authorities at the beginning of the year and subsequently be allowed to provide proof of citizenship to receive services for the following year. Surprisingly, much of the civilization in the Plane of Water is actually more recognizable by connoisseurs of modern nationalism than are the kingdoms of other planes of existence. If you want to live in a “country”, you have a citizenship card and rights and social services and stuff. Anyone who doesn't want those things (or doesn't want to pay for them), just leaves and lives elsewhere in the roaring darkness.
Campaign Seed: Carry the Standard
The hinterseas of the Plane of Water are really, really isolated. Seriously, if you never go more than two hundred yards from home, you pretty much by definition don't know what's going on much more than two hundred yards away. So when a new empire establishes itself, the first thing it has to do is survey its territory, meet the hinterlanders, sell them citizenship cards, and so on. Once that's done, it's time to do it again, since someone could have put a castle in that last cubic mile while you weren't looking. People being sent to survey or patrol the hinterseas can expect to run into just about anything and have a reason to investigate anything and talk to anyone they see. Plus, back home, they can win recognition for their accomplishments. Fighting a few low-level wandering monsters is expected. Convincing the Merfolk on the border to join your nation is worthy of a medal. Heading off an invading empire in the kelp beds gives them the personal notice of the king and probably titles theirselves.
Campaign Seed: Gold and Knives
The Plane of Water has one of the largest cities on the Elemental Planes: the City of Glass, an enormous trade metropolis where nobody actually rules the entire thing, with portals and submarines to much of the multiverse. The politics and rivalries of the merchant guilds there are intense, with blackmail, theft, and even assassination frequent. Guilds rise to prominence and collapse to obscurity like the tides, with shifting alliances and betrayals, every guild seeking an edge over every other. The line between loyal agent and mercenary is blurred all the time, and the guilds will richly reward those who advance their aims.
Ten Low Level Adventures in the Plane of Water
The old Locathah is certainly interested in your proposal. But he says he has other problems...
- Sahuagin raiding has hit several nearby kelp farms.
- Shark attacks are on the rise.
- No one seems to want to buy the sponges he has been growing.
- His daughter has the ick.
- Food supplies are running low.
- The fish are migrating out.
- A local hot spot is attributed to Fire leeching.
- Those who die seem to come back as zombies.
- A siren has been throwing her weight around.
- Pirates have seized the oyster bed.
Ten Mid Level Adventures in the Plane of Water
The sound of drums has called you to the activities like moths to a flame. When it comes into view, it appears to be:
- A brass sphere, with no immediately obvious entrances.
- An army of skeletons.
- The coral towers of a merfolk city, they look sick.
- An ice factory.
- Angry tritons.
- A giant eel that had been mimicking civilization sounds by slapping rocks together.
- A Sahuagin kelp outpost.
- A family of scrag wreckers.
- A Marid Sattrapi
- Some sort of mechanical vessel shaped like a lobster.
Ten High Level Adventures in the Plane of Water
You've broken into the massive mechanical manta ship. Inside you find...
- Spongy, organic passageways... this ship is alive.
- The crew are long dead and dust.
- The captain's log mentions you by name.
- Kuo-Toan pirates and their Yugoloth servants.
- Sack after sack of dream dust.
- These look like dragon eggs.
- The spectral pirates who run this thing.
- A cargo hold full of wild eyed prisoners.
- A cargo hold full of non aquatic and fearful prisoners.
- The ship's wizard captain and his crew of blood-indifferent golem pirates.
High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Ice!
So, the Plane of Ice. It's basically an enormous expanse of glaciers and tundra in a permanent winter. That said, it does still have a match on the material plane, and so is habitable as long as you keep to warm areas. Warm is a relative term, of course; your spit will still probably freeze before it hits the ground even there. If you don't have cold resistance, or don't have much of it, you're going to spend most of your time in shelter, venturing out only when its warm, to restock your firewood. You're going to live in a place that has firewood. Such places do exist, since magic means things can grow anywhere. Warm valleys that don't do cold damage or don't do much of it exist. But it's going to be assumed that everyone adventuring on the Plane of Ice has some degree of cold resistance, if not outright immunity. This means that you actually can go dungeoncrawling, or even just go outside in most of the plane.
Campaign Seed: The Darkened Depths
There's a persistent legend that the true Plane of Ice isn't actually the surface at all, that the surface (what they call "The Plateau") is actually just the interface between the Plane of Ice and the Plane of Air. Depending on which edition and which books you have, this might even be canon. Regardless, the Plane of Ice is shot through with tunnels, some of which even connect through portals (perceptible or not) to tunnels on other ice shelves. They aren't made more prominent because the cosmos already has Pandemonium and the Elemental Plane of Earth, and doesn't actually need another dungeon plane. Especially with the Tome teleportation rules that mean that you can't efficiently cross the vast distances of these dungeon planes, putting the majority of a plane underground just means that people there will be on rails. Of course, in some games where the players don't want to have too many choices, that's actually desirable.
The depths of the Plane of Ice are a lot like the Plane of Earth, in that it's full of twisty passages and you are pretty much constrained to them. Also that it's really dark unless you bring your own light. But there are also some key differences. The ice is rock-hard, or nearly so, with little of the packed earth and sand that makes up so much of the Plane of Earth, and the ice elementals don't burrow, for example. So the inside is more restricted to creatures that can burrow through rock, and creatures that can melt the ice, and, of course, creatures that don't care that tunnelling is slow work. Ice Dwarves, for instance, get along in the tunnels just fine. Fortunately, because of the lack of winds, the passages do a lot less cold damage than the surface, usually around 2d6 per round near the surface, and 3d6 per round in the depths. If you can find something to keep you warm, you can even ward that off.
Campaign Seed: Cold Storage
The biggest thing people make cold for in the modern world is to preserve things, mostly food, and it's not uncommon to hear about a fossil being pulled out of the ice with meat on it. People go digging around in the ice to find out what air was like way back when. Cold preserves things just as well, or better, in D&D as it does in the real world. For instance, if you're hardcore enough, you can just be flash-frozen in a block of ice to put you into suspended animation, and be merely unconcious when you're taken out of the ice (doing this is a plot-arbitrarium ritual). If you're even more hardcore you can even come out concious. So when someone needs something (or someone) preserved and locked away, freezing it (or them) on the Plane of Ice is a perfectly valid option. Fossil storage on the Plane of Ice doesn't even need people to be petrified; you can totally just leave them in a block of ice and let the plane keep them frozen.
Of course, there are other things that are best kept on the Plane of Ice, too. The plane preserves things, which means that it makes processes that break things down go slower. So if something has a tendency to break down the stuff around it and it needs to be locked in something rather than left floating in the void (which you can get on an energy plane for cheaper), you can lock it in a box on the Plane of Ice and won't need to check it as often.
Together, these two things mean that the Plane of Ice is full of caches of ancient things and frozen people. Some of them are things the PCs want and people the PCs are interested in, and almost all of them are things that someone would rather was kept in ice. You can have new opposition every week, or campaign against the plots of the same lich for an entire campaign. "Find the lost artifact" is a well-placed classic D&D plot, and the Plane of Ice is full of potential for it.
Ten Low-Level Adventures in The Plane of Ice
It's a small house made of thick stone without windows, to keep the cold out. Inside it is. . .
- A frozen corpse, and a journal with mentions of several hunting grounds.
- Nothing you can see, since the door's frozen shut.
- Someone's accumulated possessions. It looks like the best stuff is gone. Among the remainder are notes for a planned permanent trip to a warmer Planar Bubble.
- The sage you've been looking for. She's recovering from a battle with a Winter Wolf, and wants its pelt to prove your strength.
- The sage, who tells you that his best books were stolen by an ice mephit and taken to its lair up a mountainside.
- A hermit, who demands through a bolted door that you bring him spell components to summon a fire elemental before he lets you in.
- Very, very cold. Apparently the lack of windows was to keep the cold in.
- The (thief/traitor/murderer) you've been tracking all this way, with a pack of bugbear bodyguards.
- A baby, not more than two weeks old, and by all appearances completely happy.
- A giant ice cave, which seems rather larger than the building itself.
Ten Mid-Level Adventures in The Plane of Ice
The tunnel ahead opens up onto. . .
- A snowy valley.
- A huge, echoing cavern, in which sleeps a Frost Worm.
- A camp of Frost Salamanders.
- A surprisingly warm beach. Of course, the fire elementals that are apparently trapped here don't think it's very warm at all.
- The exhaust dump of an Efreeti forge.
- A cavern-city of Ice Gnomes.
- Another passage, this one slick and filled with what feels like hot air. It drops you in an enormous cavern with a pool of water, and water dripping off the ceiling. Come to think of it, this passage is exactly Remorhaz-shaped.
- A terrifyingly high ledge overlooking the enemy castle. If you can get down, you have a perfect attack.
- A forest of crystalline plants, growing denser than you've ever seen before.
- A huge cavern. In the clear ice of the cavern floor you can see an enormous heap of gold and jewels. As you look in awe at it, you notice that the room smells faintly of dragon.
Ten High-Level Adventures in The Plane of Ice
The icy monolith has, frozen in it. . .
- The phylactery of the lich Tendrils of Winternight.
- The sword prophecied to slay the dragon Fieraedeyath.
- A noble Djinn. A pretender to the Throne of Air, if your research was right.
- A very distinct chunk of differently-colored ice.
- The Frost Giant King's vizier.
- The laughter of Queen Chandra.
- An enormous clockwork war machine.
- What appears to be fire. Not burning, either, just held in place.
- The princess of the Storm Giants from an eon ago. More importantly, she's now actually the rightful heir to their throne, with a mandate to unite the race.
- A seed from the plane of Wood, still alive after who knows how long.
High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Wood!
Adventuring in the Plane of Wood is not like adventuring in a forest on the Material plane, simply because of the way gravity works. Usually the trunk you're walking on the side of isn't that big, "merely" a few hundred or thousand feet in circumference, which makes land a lot more one-dimensional. Then, also, when you reach a big tree in the forest, either a parasite or a major limb, you can just go straight up it. That said, there are a lot of similarities. Looking too far in any direction is just fades to green, for instance. Also, unlike some of the other Elemental planes, you can set your stuff down anywhere, and you can find what you need to build a house pretty much anywhere (if you can fight off the elementals' attacks).
Nonetheless, the Plane of Wood is mostly wilderness, and the people who live there are weird. Mostly because they have to live there without harming the plants in order to not be constantly at war with the environment around them. So you have a lot of people who've figured out various ways to safely get food off the plants, mostly nature spellcasters of various types, and many of them hermits. There are also a bunch of nomad groups who keep running from the plants so that they can get to safety, fighting the environment every step of the way.
Campaign Seed: Have Wood for Sheep!
Because the Plane of Wood is alive, it's actually fairly inhospitable, and it's safest to try to import most of what you need from someplace where you can farm without having to deal with monsters that try to avenge your crops, either from blights or from off-plane. Meanwhile, the Plane of Wood has an enormous wealth of riches: rare woods, resins, herbs, seeds, even amber of thousands of kinds. Being able to retrieve that for people can make you very wealthy off-plane.
That's not to say that the plane doesn't have settlers. The wealth available is great enough to guarantee that. It very vehemently doesn't want them there, but the people don't actually care about that. So there's not only money in looting the plane, but also money in protecting the settlers who are themselves looting the plane.
Campaign Seed: The Natural Order
Some of the various hermits on the Plane of Wood think that the plane itself talks to them. Some of them might even be right. Sometimes they say that the plane tells them to get something, or to kill something, and sometimes the plane tells them where to find nice things. Even if it's not the plane itself and just individual plants on it, it or they do have things they need done and rewards for people willing to do them. They've also crossed many enemies, who, likewise, have things that need doing and rewards for those who do them. Whichever side you pick, there is potential for great profit. And you can do the right thing, by either preventing harm to the forest or opening its resources to those who need them.
Ten Low-Level Adventures in The Plane of Wood
Your guide told you. . .
- The soft deep blue fruit is safe to eat. But all you can see are poisonous red fruits.
- Beware the Dryad.
- That the local wasps are never more than a foot long. That is certainly not the case with the corpse you just found. More important, what killed it?
- The limb's too dangerous now; there's a brushfire.
- The bees are harmless if you don't harm the plants. Which sounds fine, until you see that there are thousands of them. And, Hey! That vine just grabbed my leg! It doesn't look like it'll let go without being pulled up, either.
- That the vines aren't harmful, they're just looking for a little love. Except that they're covered with thorns. And the trail is covered with them.
- That you should stay out of caves, because the trees don't like intruders. That advice doesn't really help now that your buddy just fell into one.
- The tree's wounded here, and it'll think you're hurting it if you step in the pools of resin.
- The giant ants have provoked the plants into attacking anything they don't recognize.
- That the legends say that the Forest doesn't go on forever. Well, here's your proof. Now, how are you going to make it back alive?
Ten Mid-Level Adventures in The Plane of Wood
The tower's entirely overgrown on the outside, but there's a sheet of paper out on the table on the inside. On it is. . .
- A map to a bubble of the Plane of Water.
- The formulation for a strange fertilizer, along with a component list and a map indicating where to deliver it.
- A formula for blighting a region. The ingredients list is also written in chalk on a slate on the wall, with all but one crossed out.
- Blood, obscuring a message. You can make out "The logging continues as planned. Anyone who (illegible) will end up the same as this sap."
- A series of strange runes. On further inspection, it seems like the mobile vines outside the tower repeatedly form themselves into series of these runes when you walk by.
- A map to a tree, with a note "The tree is three hundred feet tall and it does not have its own gravity. The oracle lives at the top."
- A theory that there are giant plant-scavengers native to the Plane of Wood that clear entire dead trees, and notes from researching a spell to find and lead them.
- A note "It's not safe to stay in this tower anymore. The food stores are still full if you need them. I've gone where I said I would be."
- The formulae for the scents to control the local scorpions.
- Plans for what looks like a magical brachiating carriage. Now, where to find someone that can build such an oddball contraption...?
Ten High-Level Adventures in The Plane of Wood
When you eat the strange fruit, you see a vision of. . .
- A city of giants in a Blight. One of them has the gem you're looking for.
- A giant worm, tearing its way through a limb. You nearly pass out from the tree's pain.
- A bubble of Wood, trapped on the Plane of Earth, and asking the Tree for rescue.
- A bubble of Wood on the Plane of Earth. You instinctively know that if the rocks can be cleared, it can put down strong roots there.
- The way to the elder treant's grove. Getting there looks like it's going to be difficult; you can't teleport through the tree cover.
- A blighted area that looks suspiciously like right where you're standing. And the blight is expanding fast.
- A giant lumber mill. It looks like it's being run by Efreet.
- A tree pouring sap onto a tiny leeching from the Plane of Fire to keep it from spreading, and a wordless cry for help.
- A Formian Hive carved out of a tree trunk. It looks like they're about to break through into a sapline.
- Really, really pretty colors, man. Dude, you have to tell someone about this. First, though, you have to get it to go away, before it gets you killed.
High Adventure in . . . The Negative Energy Plane!
The Negative Energy Plane is very much a spacefaring science fiction world. While it doesn't necessarily have high technology, the vast distances of quickly-crossed inhospitable death void in between tiny areas that are habitable, often only due to the hard work of the inhabitants and keeping the death void out have a lot of correspondances. One scrappy colony on a chunk of rock in the void might be able to see and be seen by the next colony over in a planar bubble and have a constant low stream of people going back and forth, but only on a few elite caravans. It's also a Peter Pan world, and a Zombie Apocalypse, all at once.
This does some good things for your campaign. First, you can have people coming in from anywhere into the little part of the world the PCs call home all the time. Second, you can plausibly throw anything in, since where else is it going to go? Anyone who comes to the Negative plane is going to end up either undead or in a planar bubble, so any given planar bubble can plausibly have any combination of cultures, races, or whatever in it, no matter how little sense it makes. Third, undead literally fall from the sky here. So no matter how deeply you've written yourself into a corner, all your problems can be solved, or at least delayed, by an invasion of space zombies.
Campaign Seed: Death World
Bubbles of material in the Negative Energy Plane are awesome places. These bubbles are a lot like Neverland if it was made by American McGee. Each region fills up with weird crap from all over the planes like tribes of Indians, mermaids, and pirates. However, these places are also constantly under assault by a low level rain of zombies from space. That's not a joke, undead beasts literally float around in the void and choose to fall towards points of light. This setup allows for very reasonably scaling D&D adventuring, since if the PCs become masters of their surroundings and conquer the Maze of Regrets, you have a totally reasonable excuse to have a level appropriate undead army fall out of the sky and start causing havoc. In the meantime, even though the levels of Negative Energy aren't high enough to snuff the life out of anything, they are leaking in enough to make things subtly creepy and unpleasant. Feel free to use any Ravenloft clichés you want. Or just American McGee it up - people live on a fricking Death World, so have just messed up stuff happen all the time. Have cats croak out "help... me..." for no reason. Have thorns drip unexplained blood. Have trees inexplicably drain of color. Inhabitants go crazy and start eating pieces of themselves. Go nuts.
Campaign Seed: Exotic Products Trading Company, Negative Energy Planar Branch
The Negative Energy Plane is one of the most hostile environments in the cosmos, and, despite most of it being a barren wasteland, still has valuables in it. Since its environment is so unique, many of the products of the energy planes don't exist anywhere else at all. Also, people who want to lose something so it's never found again often cast it into one of the energy planes. Whether voidstone, ancient artifacts, undead souls, or whatever it is people want from the negative energy plane, your party can find it and bring it off-plane. Doing this takes a special kind of person. One who doesn't bat an eye at landing in an unfamiliar bubble populated by stranger people, can negotiate with strange undead, and doesn't hesitate to fly the trade routes of the plane's stars, hurling through the void. Also someone who isn't afraid to battle strange beasts and soul-devouring monstrousities.
Ten Low-Level Adventures in The Negative Energy Plane
The ghoul chitters and licks his parched lips. Seemingly reluctant to proceed, he whispers...
- "You may have defeated me, but there are a dozen more on their way..."
- "Fellnax wants his coins. He wants them bad.."
- "You can kill me, I'll never tell you were the diadem is."
- "I knew someone would find me. I didn't know who, but after the Hellmire job, I knew it was only a matter of time..."
- "These bones... these bones are mine..."
- "You traitors! I'll feast on you!"
- "Do you have the scrolls? My master said you would have the scrolls..."
- "You don't look like Fellnax's men."
- "Fellnax sent me to tell you, to tell you that he is going to kill all of you..."
- "We still have the girl, please don't do anything we'd both regret."
Ten Mid-Level Adventures in The Negative Energy Plane
It's good to meet another outworlder. But there's something weird about this guy...
- There are faint sobs coming from his backpack.
- He casts no reflection.
- Everytime he mentions the Castle Perilous he came from, he looks over his shoulder.
- There are the scars of bite marks all over his arm.
- When he talks about his family getting eaten, it's like he doesn't even care.
- When he mentions the golden statues of Kath, it's like he doesn't even care.
- He seems genuinely relieved to be here.
- He steps right over the ghoul corpses as if that was a normal thing.
- He has one of Fellnax's amulets. Or something that looks just like one...
- There is a wraith following behind him, one that looks just like he does...
Ten High-Level Adventures in The Negative Energy Plane
You've got a fix on the Voidstone you were looking for. Unfortunately it's...
- Suspended inside the chest cavity of a dracolich.
- Worshiped by a death cult of Kuo Toa.
- Inside a Castle Perilous named "Doom Watch"
- Been made into a sword by a mad Duergar.
- Guarded by a Void Shadow.
- Guarded by a Shadow Dragon
- The Tomb of a fallen god.
- Locked in Lethe Ice.
- On the far side of an Allip Belt
- In the workshop of a Master Skincrafter.
High Adventure in . . . The Positive Energy Plane!
The Positive Energy Plane is an even worse place to be than the Negative Energy Plane. It not only will kill everything that goes out unprotected (by 3rd level spells!) except constructs, rather than just killing the living, but you also can't even see the next town over on it, instead needing to trust that your map has the correct departure angles, and that you have the right map. Otherwise you could end up hurtling through a useless void forever. The parts of the plane that aren't a deadly void are really, really tiny, too. For all of these reasons, the Positive Energy Plane is awarded the title of Worst Place in the Multiverse. This is not to say that you can't adventure on the Positive Energy Plane as a first-level character, just that you have to stay in a tiny corner of the plane, for the most part.
Nonetheless, it's fully feasible to live there, and people do, on stable bubbles and as nomads, travelling between leechings in edge zones. Some people even come in and build their own castles with wards to protect from the outside of the plane, living like pretty much any Castle Perilous. There are even good reasons to live here. Living creatures can be used as net sources of energy; capturing an ooze of some kind and setting it on fire can actually cover your power needs. The bursts of positive energy can animate objects to a semblance of life, and many wizards have found ways to get that under a semblance of control. The energies of the plane itself can be controlled directly in other ways at plot convenience. But they also kill people, or at least give them cancer, and many people decide to leave in a hurry for that reason.
Campaign Seed: The Grand Exploration
Finding a new place to settle in the Positive Energy Plane, even one only ten minutes' fall away from home, or less than one degree off your main travel path, requires a major investment, either wish-economy-level or an enormous amount of manpower and luck. On top of this, there's no real central mapping authority to the plane, and no empire in the Wish Economy that makes active efforts to find new bubbles. Maps can easily get lost or destroyed with the fall off one empire. Then, when a new place worth investigating, a bubble, or a leeching in an edge zone, or a ruin, or whatever is discovered, adventurers swarm in to take it. A new bubble can hold absolutely anything, since it's the only place most things can survive on the Positive Energy Plane, and a ruin could have been built for anything before it was abandoned. Building a new empire is often as much a matter of finding places as expanding into them. As an aside, two empires can easily have bubbles within what you might otherwise consider the other's borders without ever even knowing about the other, because of the way travel works here. Border negotiations when they find this out can be tricky.
Campaign Seed: Trapped in the Dungeon
Dungeon crawl campaigns are totally possible on the Energy Planes. Since the habitable areas are tiny islands and surrounded by an environment that kills everything, fighting for them can be fierce. Consider one island, now. It might be a warded derilect city-sphere, or an enormous chunk of leeched earth floating in an edge zone, or a material planar bubble, whatever. Regardless, it's dangerous to go outside, but it has pretty much everything you need and is shot through with tunnels. When the way from point A to point B is blocked in the tunnels, you've got to clear a path between them or else you're stuck. This island could easily be inhabited by several distinct tribes, and more independent monsters, each trying to grab their little scraps of territory to survive and unaware of any others except their neighbors. This leaves the PCs in one dungeon fighting level-appropriate things for at least as long as it takes them to learn how to travel to other planes, if not all the way to level 20 (in a large enough "world").
Ten Low-Level Adventures in The Positive Energy Plane
The nomad scout can get you the departure angle you need, but needs you to
- Help find the cure for his people's plague.
- Convince the interlopers on the next bubble to leave.
- Investigate the temple that has sprung up on the next bubble.
- Gather seeds to replace his tribe's failed crop.
- Make a replacement part for the tribe's water still.
- Retrieve a slow-growing lichen from outside the edge zone, for rendering into spell components.
- Animate the door leading to the ancient supply cache.
- Drive the Ravid off the next bubble.
- Find a way to restore the shielding on the cancer ward.
- Get the orrery in the ruins working.
Ten Mid-Level Adventures in The Positive Energy Plane
The strange traveller tells you:
- He was trapped on the Positive Energy Plane by a loose portal, and has only managed to survive so far by luck. He will richly reward anyone who can send him home.
- This ruin is hurtling toward a burst cluster, and can only be stopped by reanimating it.
- An escapee from a planar prison has broken onto your island not far from here.
- She knows where you can find the departure angle for another bubble.
- The chained monster in the depths of the island is stirring.
- He was separated from his companions on an expedition to gather gray goo for an off-plane wizard researcher. The others may all be dead.
- She was sent by a wizard to find gray goo. A few questions reveal that neither she nor the wizard know how dangerous gray goo really is.
- He's the last survivor of a group sent to gather gray goo. More will be sent after him if the wizard sending them is not stopped.
- If you need food, you're out of luck here. The fish are all dead ever since the wards wavered and energized the pond.
- She has the departure angle for an off-plane portal, but is too weak to survive the trip
Ten High-Level Adventures in The Positive Energy Plane
Your efforts have paid off, and you've found a correct departure angle. Your destination comes into view above you, and you see. . .
- The single most enormous colony of gray goo you have ever seen, and you're still falling toward it.
- A bubble of the Plane of Wood, forming into an immense, teeming jungle.
- An earthburg in an edge zone, crawling with creatures inside and out.
- The standard of another empire.
- An enormous steel castle.
- A material bubble, in the shape of a sphere of water with an island rising from it, with a tremendous stone temple on the island's highest mountain.
- A swarm of Xag-Ya. There must be thousands of them.
- Exactly what the traveller's account of the fountain of immortality described.
- A magical vault, floating in the void.
- A material bubble, with a forest and fields being devoured by a swarm of Gray Goo.
High Adventure in . . . The Plane of Shadow!
While the Plane of Shadow is certainly a weird place, it's not actually that different from the material plane. Sure, everything looks more dangerous, and it's a lot darker out, and you can't really see color, but it still has towns, and cities, and ruins, and goblin lairs. Sure, the ruins are ruins of places that never existed or that still actually exist, and the goblins are shadow goblins instead of regular goblins, but they're basically the same. Although it is disconcerting, the Shadow Plane isn't actually a whole lot more dangerous than the Material.
Campaign Seed: Shadows on the Cave
The Border Plane of Shadow is a reflection of the Material Plane, although heavily distorted, and it connects to the material quite heavily. People often try to use it to slip quickly from place to place on the material, or as a place to hide from their enemies on the material. But the shadow plane is actually as vibrant as the material. Most of the Plane of Shadow is wilderness, or ruins with no maker, but the wilderness in D&D is even more interesting to adventurers than civilization. A party of adventurers travelling across border shadow could easily pull all the same tropes as they do on the Material, just in a little bit more darkness. Then, of course, there's the impact the two planes have on eachother; doing the right ritual in the right place at the right time can change things on the other plane. So you can do a lot of running back and forth between the planes to rearrange the wilderness.
Campaign Seed: Dimsprinting
The Khayal have the single largest empire on the Plane of Shadow, and they are in a continuous low-level conflict with the other genies, and the other denizens of the Plane of Shadow. Hiring mercenaries gives them the ability to go places that they ordinarily can't, whether to talk to people or to steal things where a Khayal cannot afford to be. The PCs might, in the course of working for the Khayal, have to drive a group of goblins out of some ruins one day, find the location of a Jann camp from the nearby humans the next, humiliate a Khayal politician after their day off, and finish their week with a trip to the City of Brass to steal an Efreet relic. Of course, as the PCs get more powerful they get more eyes on them, both Khayal and not. And their Khayal employers are nothing if not untrustworthy; opportunities for a double-cross are everywhere.
Ten Low-Level Adventures in The Plane of Shadow
You can't tell who or what it is through the thick shadows in this alley, but it says. . .
- "I can't let you in the bar unless you know today's password."
- "Get me the sheik's dagger, and then we can talk secrets."
- "Get me the sheik's dagger, or else I'll tell your secrets to anyone who'll listen."
- "You didn't hear this from me, but the dagger the sheik always wears lets him read minds."
- "I need Jamal's seal on this document. I'll offer you good money for it."
- "The orcs took the key back into their lair. You'll need to get it from them."
- "I need to know what Jamal's plan is, but his servant and I had a falling-out. There's good money in this for you."
- "See that masked guy? He's staying at the Wavering Eclipse. Find out who he is, and I'll get you the scroll."
- "You ever wondered where all those ghouls are coming from? Or about that strange new inn, the Iron Pegasus, that's way bigger than it needs to be for the amount of business it does?"
- "I need to know what color this is by midnight. I'll pay you well for it."
Ten Mid-Level Adventures in The Plane of Shadow
You've been double-crossed! Life's going to be a lot more difficult now that. . .
- You didn't find out the talisman was cursed until after you stole it.
- The elite Knights of the Black Wolf know your scent.
- Everyone thinks you poisoned the emir's sister.
- The "empty ruin" turned out to be a nest full of Shadows.
- You've been robbed by your fence.
- Your fence has outed you to the three people you did your biggest thefts to.
- The princess was in cahoots with the dragon the whole time.
- You have no idea where that portal took you.
- The "reward" for your last theft was to bleed you and toss you to the wights.
- The "hapless merchant caravan" turned out to be a covey of Medusa sorceresses.
Ten High-Level Adventures in The Plane of Shadow
You match him trick for trick for hours, and the emir finally relents, and tells you how to find. . .
- The dragon's lair.
- The gem containing your contact's soul.
- A valley with the only surviving population of a monster species thought extinct.
- The truename of a powerful fiend.
- One of the secret entrances to the Palace of Endings.
- The Malik al-Khayal's exiled uncle.
- The Sahuagin Deepseer's tower.
- The one place the Aboleth can cast the spell to unleash peoples' shadows as undead Shadows. The conjunction's tomorrow.
- The portal to the realm of your nemesis, the demon Nazbalar.
- The source of a little-known tributary of the Styx.
High Adventure. . . Across the Inner Planes!
It's fully possible for campaigns to be run that cross from one inner plane to the other frequently. Bases for these can be on any of them, the material plane, the ethereal plane, or the astral. A few campaign seeds will be given here as possible inspirations for such a campaign. Of course, that style of game can also be easily done as a monster or dungeon of the week, too.
Campaign Seed: Express Delivery
A popular trope for D&D adventures has been to hire the PCs onto a merchant group as caravan guards, negotiators, etc. It's nice because it lets you move the PCs from place to place, and gives them a motivation to go exactly where you want them to. With the entirety of the inner planes to explore, you have yet more exotic locales, dungeons, and monsters to throw at them. The adventures practically write themselves.
Campaign Seed: Planar War
It's fully possible for two (or more) planes to go to war in some models of the planes. This isn't just wars between the genies, although they will get driven or swept into it. These wars are fought between powerful elemental creatures that claim to represent the will of the planes themselves. If the planes are truly sapient, that might well be true. Regardless, they are able to control portals, planar leechings, and so on, and use them to interfere with the other planes of existence. Acid seas might get dumped into metal veins on the Plane of Earth or great trees on the Plane of Wood, or firestorms might burst across the settled planes. These Primal Wars, if they can happen, are even more spectacular and destructive than the battles of the Blood War.
Campaign Seed: The Unmaking
If elementals are taken as guardians who try to prevent theft of planar material, and the material plane is made of combinations of the elements, then the elementals become, obviously, opposed to the creation of the material. Even if they aren't inherently opposed to all taking of planar material (since more is constantly being made), it's easy to imagine a material plane being made of the best kinds. After all, most material worlds have habitable seas, rather than enormous pools of acid, arable earth, and so on. It's possible that there's a group of elementals that decides that they're going to do something about those long-ago (and not so long ago) thefts, and disassemble the material plane to put its parts back on their elemental planes. Naturally, people who live on the material plane are not going to like this.
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