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All Rules in Planar Adventures

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Building a Planar Campaign

Source Planar Adventures pg. 82
The typical adventurer can readily secure fame and fortune within a single dungeon, nation, or continent, and for many campaigns, sticking to an easily grasped fantasy world of goblins, knights, and near-Earth conditions is the right move. After all, traveling the multiverse increases the possibilities and dangers by untold orders of magnitude. In capable hands, a planar campaign can inspire stories unlike any other. But if handled poorly, a romp across the planes can turn into a disjointed series of accidents or sudden endings that could potentially harm a long-term game. So how can you as a GM convey a creative, fun, and memorable experience?

Why the Planes?

Source Planar Adventures pg. 82
Okay, you’ve made the choice to take your game to the planes, but your campaign’s characters already enjoy stabbing bad guys on their home world. So why should your players risk life, limb, and the integrity of their souls to travel the planes when there are perfectly good dungeons in their own corner of the cosmic backyard? The possibilities are limitless, yet most goals fall within four categories: access, acquisition, confrontation, or rescue. Each of these can be the ultimate aim for a campaign or merely a step toward a bigger task, and an effective planar campaign uses several of these goals to create a compelling sequence of events.

Presenting the Planes

Source Planar Adventures pg. 83
There’s a significant reason that most campaigns take place on an earthlike world: it’s predictable. Gravity works as expected, there are 24 hours in a day, seasons exist, and weather patterns make sense. That changes rapidly the moment the PCs start jumping to other planes of existence, and conflict between the players’ expectations and each planar reality is often more jarring for you than for them, due to potential challenges managing and presenting those differences in compelling ways. The ways in which you can overcome these difficulties vary as much as the planes themselves, but the basics fall into three broad concepts.

Planar Tuning Forks

Source Planar Adventures pg. 85
Plane shift requires a specific tuning fork attuned to the destination plane, and while the Core Rulebook lists this as a spell focus with no listed price (implying that each spell component pouch has a full array of tuning forks), that should not be the case for any campaign that features planar travel. Limiting the PCs’ access to specific planes’ focuses can help manage where the PCs can travel to. Finding the right fork—or uncovering an unidentified fork and exploring whatever exists at its attuned destination—could be the basis for an adventure in its own right.

You should strongly consider assigning gold piece values to the tuning forks required for using plane shift to travel the planes. Not only does this give you greater control over which planes the characters can access, but it also creates an interesting and even collectable commodity for planar travelers. By assigning the following values, you also prevent tuning forks from being automatically available with the purchase of a spell component pouch, with a side benefit of easily indicating which might be available for purchase in settlements.

Note that some planes, like the Akashic Record, cannot be traveled to via plane shift at all, while others, like the Dimension of Time, are notoriously difficult to create lasting tuning forks for.

Table 2-2: Plane Shift Tuning Forks

Untuned fork25 gp
Common tuning fork100 gp
Uncommon tuning fork2,000 gp
Rare tuning fork20,000 gp
Unique tuning forkPriceless
Planar tuning forks have no notable weight.

Alternate Cosmologies

Source Planar Adventures pg. 86
The Pathfinder RPG assumes a cosmology centered on the Great Beyond, a concept that not only contextualizes the alignment system, the functionality of certain spells (such as etherealness and shadow walk), and the nature of the divine, but also helps to define the roles of every outsider in the game. However, the Great Beyond is far from the only possible model for a cosmology in your game. Presented below are several alternate cosmologies you might wish to explore for your own setting. Consider these examples as options and inspirations; as always, you are encouraged to alter the game world to fit your desires and expectations, as well as those held by your players.