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[Let's Read] Planescape Monstrous Compendium I-III

Thordic

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Planescape has always been one of my favorite settings. The art alone makes it stand out from the other campaign settings, and it has so much cool stuff. I love all the options it gives you.

Do you really really love hack and slash? Well we have unlimited hordes of demons in varying power levels that you can slay all day long and never run out. Probably the "worst" way to play Planescape, but it's there, and appeals to those who just can't get enough of killing things, getting XP, and taking their treasure.

The thing I like the most is the clear moral slate it sets up. There are clear battles between good & evil / law & chaos in the planes. The player's can be mercenaries, selling their services to the highest bidder, or their can be driven by a more noble purpose.

Some of my favorite Planescape books are the Monstrous Compendium's. They are full of awesomeness, between the art, variety of monsters, and IC comments from adventurers and sages about the various creatures. I was a big fan of the original Let's Read thread for the 2E Monstrous Manual, so I figured I'd take over for Planescape.

I know there's a Dark Sun thread out there somewhere, but it seems to have disappeared.

My goal is 2-3 monsters a week, depending on how furious the discussion is. Some monsters may need more time, such as the main lower planar entries. If for some reason I won't be around for a while, I'll let everyone know and someone else can step in for a bit if they want. If I disappear unexpectedly, hopefully someone picks up the reins.

I'd like to make it through all three books by the end of the thread.

Aasimon will be up shortly.
 

timbannock

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Also subscribed. I'm planning to drag a WHOLE lot of Planescape into my C&C campaign (when/if it ever gets up and running), and I still need to get the physical copies of the 3 Planescape monstrous compendiums.
 

Thordic

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Aasimon

“Awful, awful,” he says now. “First th’ fightin’, naturally, an’ then of a sudden I heard this call like a trumpet. Deafed me, it did. All th’ fiends turned, looked ’round, couldna see nothin’. Above sudden came this huuuge light from nowhere! It burned ’em! It burned ever’thing! It burned my brain!” He hiccups and adds, “Come on, basher, buy a bub for a good ol’ sod, ’ay?” - Danis Twelve-Fingers, after witnessing aasimon defending Mt. Celestia
Aasimon are the angels of D&D. They come in all flavors of good, and serve as a cosmic counter-balance to the fiends. They look much as you’d expect – tall, beautiful, wings, the whole nine yards.

They all share a basic set of powers. A variety of elemental resistances, spell like powers, and a cool ability called “celestial reverence” where they glow all pretty-like and awe any mortals within sight (or force evil mortals to run off in fear).

Aasimon never lie, cheat, or steal. They always act honorable. I can’t imagine they have much of a sense of humor, or are much fun to hang out with.

They come in 7 basic varieties:

  • Agathinon – The warriors of the upper planes. These aasimon serve to defend the borders of the upper planes, and fight in holy wars between the pantheons.
  • Astral Deva – Messengers to the Lower Planes (and presumably the neutral planes as well)
  • Monadic Deva – Messengers to the Elemental and Para-Elemental Planes
  • Movanic Deva – Messengers to the Prime Material Plane (Good to remember when playing prime campaigns)
  • Light Aasimon – These aasimon serve as familiars and companions on holy quests.
  • Planetar – These powerful aasimon serve the gods themselves, directly.
  • Solar – The most powerful aasimon, they also serve directly. They are almost powerful enough to be gods themselves, but chose to serve rather than have their own worshippers.

I’ve always liked Aasimon but never got around to using them in any of my campaigns. I think the possibilities are endless.

I’d be tempted to go with the fallen angel concept. The party is helping a fallen aasimon recover his status and atone for his sins. But he isn’t forthcoming – the party has no idea what his sins were. In the strict world of the aasimon, is stealing a loaf of bread or lying to your neighbor reason for banishment? Or has he committed truly heinous crimes? Rape, murder, treason? When they find out what he did, will they be upset, thinking their quest ridiculous due to the petty nature of his crime, or will they find his crimes so horrible they decide to be his judge, jury, and executioner?

Individual write-ups on the way.
 

Thordic

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Aasimon – Agathinon

Agathinon are the “elite warriors” of the celestial armies. They are the least powerful of the aasimon, but considerably more powerful than the foot soldiers (Einheriar, which we’ll get to later).

In their natural forms, they look like shiny elves. However, they only use their natural form while at home in the upper planes, and never for combat. Their coolest feature is their powerful polymorph ability.

If fighting in their home plane, they often polymorph into humans. At first this doesn’t make sense, but when you consider most of the army is probably made of human einheriar, this ensures they don’t stick out. But human’s are weak when you consider they can polymorph into anything. The book specifically mentions that under certain circumstances, they will polymorph into powerful creatures such as dragons. In these forms, they retain their hit dice but gain the new forms attacks. So they would gain dragon attacks (claws, bite, tail slap, wing buffet, etc) and also the breath weapon.

How cool is that? Imagine a celestial army marching into battle. All of a sudden, 100 of the human troops turn into gold dragons, and a breath a veritable wall of fire into the opposing army.

They can also take the form of an inanimate object, which when held by someone of good alignment can confer minor priest spells and the ability to turn undead.

They are sometimes sent to the prime material plane to aid mortals in the fight against evil.

An Agathinon in necklace form could be a boon to a lowish-level prime material party who will be spending a lot of time fighting undead, especially if they don’t have a cleric. When they get to later levels, perhaps the Agathinon will deem them worthy and decide to fight by their side.

Their polymorph ability, and the fact they apparently use it quite often, leaves them open to a lot of different plot ideas. It makes you wonder though, if aasimon never lie or cheat, how much deception are Agathinon’s allowed to get away with by shapeshifting?

One last tidbit is they are powerful telepaths and can communicate with any creature.

Have at it. I'll put the Deva's up in a couple days in one post since they are pretty similar.
 

Thordic

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Thought I'd have more people jumping in on this one.

Here's a cool plot for Aasimon, and Agathinon in general:

Aasimon get involved in holy wars, generally between pantheons. So the good gods of Toril get pissed off at the good gods of Oerth, and all hell breaks loose. Tyr and Heironeous get into an arguement over who serves justice more strictly, and the next thing you know their aasimon start feuding. It quickly gets out of hand, and the next thing you know, you have choirs of angels sharpening their weapons.

Warriors also face each other in endless cycles of “holy” wars. Gathering a vast host of agathinon warriors and whipping them into ideological fervor, one pantheon wages devastating campaigns against another, slaughtering thousands, even millions in the name of its particular brand of goodness. Despite
their goodness, aasimon can hold a grudge; had feelings still exist between pantheons over holy wars fought thousands of years ago.
You thought the blood war was bad. Millions of angels slaughtering each other. The slopes of Mt. Celestia running red with the blood of immortals.

Perhaps the Yugoloths get wind of this, and form a plan. They plot and scheme, and manage to call off the Blood War for a time. They whip the Tanar'ri into a frenzy, and send them into Asgard. They tell the Baatezu they can't let the Tanar'ri gain all the power, and convince them to march on Arboria.

Can the Aasimon call off their battles in time to respond to the invasion? Will they be able to move their armies across the planes quick enough to save them? What other plots have the Yugoloths set into action? What's their true goal?

All sorts of other things could spring from the Aasimon being drawn into a huge holy war. Maybe the Baatezu are even smart enough to realize that the Aasimon fighting each other aids chaos too much for their taste, and decides its in their best interests to STOP the war before chaos gains the upper hand.
 

Thordic

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Devas will go up Friday. Hopefully this thread gets some interest, I'll keep going a while.
 

(un)reason

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This is relevant to my interests. Just when I've reached the start of the teasers for the line in Dragon as well. I'll try and drop in with any ideas.
 

Thordic

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I wasn't planning on giving up quite yet, no worries :)

Aasimon, Deva

Aasimon are the messengers of the gods. They are tasked to deliver messages to other planes, from Waterdeep to The Demonweb Pits to The City Of Brass. All Devas are powerful warriors, to ensure their safety while on their mission, and because they often deliver their messages rather forcefully.

They all share a number of magical powers, which include Heal and Polymorph Self among lesser powers.

There are three types of Deva

Astral Deva

Appearing as tall beautiful human males, Astral Devas are the messengers to the outer planes. They have golden skin, fair hair, and a charisma of 20 (Shame they don't have genitals, poor guys).

They fight with a huge mace that acts as a mace of disruption and can stun enemies.

If directed by their god, they can travel immediately to any lower plane without the need to travel through the intermediary planes. Which is fairly powerful if you think about it. Although it'd probably be suicidal, a god could effectively teleport millions of deva's to the middle of hell. It specifically says lower planes, but I suspect it should/must hold true for the other planes as well. If a god needs to send a message to Mechanus, the deva needs to walk? Doesn't make much sense. Or maybe it does, since good vs. evil is a theme, while neutral doesn't matter much. It does kind of fit when you think about it.

Monadic Deva

Again with the tall beautiful male thing, these guys are somewhat shorter, darker, and not quite as attractive as their astral cousins. Fortunately, karma made up for it by making them incredibly strong (Str 20). They carry a huge metal rod of smiting that never runs out of charges. These guys hit like trucks. They get two attacks at THAC0 5, 3D4+1d8+11 damage per hit. That'll hurt anyone (30 to 62 damage per round if both attacks hit, compared to 6-36 for the astral deva, who has a worse THAC0). If someone is used to fighting other devas and thinks they are too easy, these guys will be quite the surprise.

They act as messengers to the inner planes. Monadic devas can also travel immediately and directly to wherever they are directed, and can survive there with no penalties. Oddly, they are only immune to fire. They don't have any other special immunities. So their elemental resistance is more or less directly linked to their mission, and isn't an innate power.

Movanic Deva

The albinos of the deva family, Movanic Devas are pale and milky. They are also the least attractive, "only" boasting a charisma of 18.

They have no set weapon, yet tend to prefer 2H swords (+1, flametongue). They are extremely dextrous (no rating given), being able to forfeit one or both of their attacks to automatically block any attack, including those which should automatically hit (like magic missile). This could be extremely annoying if one of these was guarding a spellcaster.

They have a cool ability to use ANY invocation/evocation spell once per day. Of any level. That's a free Meteor Swarm.

They also regenerate 2hp/round, which is so far unique among the aasimon.

They are considered the more priveledged of devas. This is because they are sent to aid mortals on the Prime in times of need. It notes they often like to appear in forms other than their own, such as animals, unless their true form is needed.

I think devas make the best plotline for the "fallen angel" concept. They are servants by nature. They may be great warriors, but they are held in check, forced to carry messages. Movanic devas in particular are forced to aid mortals, who they may see as inferior. It's very easy to see how pride could cause the fall of a deva. Maybe a movanic deva withholds his aid when its needed the most, watching his mortal charge die in front of him. Perhaps an astral deva "forgets" to warn a group of paladins who are about to enter the abyss that an army of tanar'ri are nearby, which leads to the paladins slaughter. Maybe a group of rich efreeti manage to bribe a monadic deva to do some dastardly deed. All this goes back to the ideas I talked about in my first aasimon post about fallen angels. The deva may think he was being sneaky, but no one hides anything from the gods for long.
 
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