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

(un)reason

Making the Legend
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They made the cat lord a woman?

That's odd, because unlike the other animal lords, the cat lord was an established figure in D&D. The original appeared in the MM2, showed up fairly frequently as the patron to the eponymous character in Gygax's Gord the Rogue stories, and was even featured in at least one short story in Dragon. And all of them were roguish men. I'm surprised they went with the even more stereotypical catgirl.
That's probably precisely why they changed it. The stuff in the Gord books was one of the few things he got to keep the rights too after being kicked out of TSR. We have quite a bit of evidence that Lorraine was rather vindictive about Gary's legacy bits and wanted to remove them. On the plus side, it wasn't a retcon, they said that the previous cat lord was male, but he got killed. So they're essentially giving you freedom to give the animal lords completely different stats and personalities each time one is killed and a new one is chosen.
 
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Dr. Rudolf von Richten

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Hi, I'm Troy McClure, you may remember me from such movies as ...

... wait, that's not right, I ain't Troy McClure at all! Let's try that again.

Hi, I'm Dr. Rudolf von Richten, you may remember me from such books as 'Von Richten's guide to Vampires', 'Von Richten's guide to Ghosts' and, well 'Von Richten's guide to whatever horror lurks behind the crumbling facades the make up my homecountry.'

I was long thought to have met my final foe in the Bleak House, but it was not so. Instead, I've finally managed to escape my terror-filled homeland and have found this most wonderful city of 'Sigil', from where I've been traveling the multiverse and making notes on it's many and varied creatures. These I now which to share with you, for edification and delight.

Aasimon

Though my homeland was filled with supernatural evil, I've since learned to my delight that the forces of good have servants just as mighty, if not mightier! If only they could cleanse 'Ravenloft' (as I amusingly hear it called in these parts) of it's foul curse. Surely a Solar would be more than a match for whatever is at the core of the darkness there.

Nevertheless, the Aasimon are pretty much the embodiement of good, to the point where I wonder if they can exist apart from it; i.e. is an Aasimon that falls from the path of good would not be changed in essence, and it's form changed with it. And though some may seem to differ, I firmly believe that the notion of 'good' encompasses charity, mercy and forgiveness as well as righteousness, justice and wisdom. If I may be so bold as to peek ahead; just look at the 'Incarnate' entry (p. 58-60) in this great tome we're using to see what I mean.

Or just see the so-called 'Player's Handbook', which apparently defines the rules our multiverse is ordered by. Alignment, p. 46: "Good characters are just that. They try to be honest, charitable and forthright." "It does note that "... goodness has no absolute values." and that "...different cultures impose their own interpretation of what is good and evil.", but I interpret that to mean that cultures differ about what types of meat one can or cannot eat, and what the rules of proper etiquette are, rather than such fundamental things as if it's OK to chop someone's hand of for stealing a bread or if it is justified to rape the enemy's women; in both cases Good means saying No to those things.


- Also, Hi, this is my first post here, I've been lurking for ages, but my love for Planescape has drawn me out at last. I hope to enjoy my stay!-
 

CaliberX

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The Animal Lords are great in concept, but always fell a bit flat in execution. I definitely recall them being far underpowered for the XP they were carrying. Great for NPC/story purposes but not too useful as combatants. I liked to think of them as great exemplars of their race, but still a member nonetheless. She's the catlord (catlady?) sure, but she's still a cat.

So ... uses. Maybe a feud between two lords? Dog and Catlord fighting it out, with their attendant animals going mad fighting each other in the streets? Plot by the devious Ratlord to kill another of the lord (possibly the Catlord whose people continue to eat his?) and prevent them from being reborn? What would it mean if an Animal Lord was prevented from being reincarnated?

Also, what is the Gorilla or Monkeylord like? :eek:
 

Sleeper

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- Also, Hi, this is my first post here, I've been lurking for ages, but my love for Planescape has drawn me out at last. I hope to enjoy my stay!-
Welcome!

And yes, D&D definitely leans toward absolutist rather than relativist morality. Cultures can diverge in minor ways and still fall under the appropriate alignment umbrella, but the core of Good and Evil is defined by a vague modern humanism. Which makes for an uneasy fit with most pre-modern and non-Western real world cultures.
 

Thordic

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Also, what is the Gorilla or Monkeylord like? :eek:
There's some cool animal lords out there, for sure.

The Rhino Lord. Now that must be one badass dude.

Elephant Lord?

Is the Badger Lord the most kickass of them all?

Here's a cool concept, actually - once per (100 years?) all the animal lords travel to (?) for a huge gathering. It seems right in line with something TSR would have whipped up, so I'll complete that thought with "The sages are unsure what the purpose of this meeting is for, and so far, no one has been able to observe it firsthand."
 

CaliberX

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There's some cool animal lords out there, for sure.

The Rhino Lord. Now that must be one badass dude.

Elephant Lord?

Is the Badger Lord the most kickass of them all?

Here's a cool concept, actually - once per (100 years?) all the animal lords travel to (?) for a huge gathering. It seems right in line with something TSR would have whipped up, so I'll complete that thought with "The sages are unsure what the purpose of this meeting is for, and so far, no one has been able to observe it firsthand."
Platypuslord? :p

How do Yuan-ti feel about the Snakelord? Hell, how do Gnolls get along with the Hyenalord? :eek:
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
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Heres's an alternate take, stealing ideas from various sources.

Beast lords are the gods of animals. Though animals don't have true gods; there's something about sapience and a great capacity for abstract thought that gives birth to a profuse variety of humanoid spirits, gods, and religions. Instead, the beast lords are the perfect embodiment of an animal. The perfect wolf, the perfect badger. Big, strong, powerful. And with certain divine attributes, though not the full suite. But they're still animals. Smart animals, but animals. Incapable of speech, and with motivations and desires radically different from humans.

And there's more than one. Each species has a Great Pack, a Great Herd, or some kind of organization or convocation. They might all run together, like the horses or the wolves. Or they might be solitary, and only meet occasionally when there is a great threat that must be countered, such as among the badgers and tigers. And when they die, the divine spark is reborn in a newborn cub or kitten, so the population remains constant despite a lack of true immortality.

And every once in a while, a defective one is born.

Animals, after all, have been living in the shadow of humans for hundreds if not thousands of millennia. The megafauna of the past like the cave bear and the giant sloths have become scarce or extinct, falling in droves to the spears of our ancestors. More recently, the relationship has become even closer, for some species. Chickens and sheep and goats have been domesticated for milk, meat, and hair. Horses and oxen and dogs have been put into service as companions and servants. They have become abundant, but dependent.

So too have the human gods cast a shadow over the shadows of the animal gods. Every once in a while, a beast lord is born with a touch of the human spark. Some are merely talking animals, with an understanding of human tongues and thought. Some are more than that, and able to take on human form. The most degenerate are combinations of human and animal divine spirits, in a mostly human vessel. A feral boy who runs with the wolves, or a solitary girl with slitted eyes.

These sports are more common among the species that have been domesticated by humans, like cattle or bees; each generation will usually have one or more such half-breeds, who can speak for the others in their convocation and represent them among humans. But even among the Komodos and the mountain cats, they do appear.
 

Dr. Rudolf von Richten

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Welcome!

And yes, D&D definitely leans toward absolutist rather than relativist morality. Cultures can diverge in minor ways and still fall under the appropriate alignment umbrella, but the core of Good and Evil is defined by a vague modern humanism. Which makes for an uneasy fit with most pre-modern and non-Western real world cultures.

Thanx! :)


You're right, and in a heroic fantasy game like D&D, I prefer it that way. OTOH, Planscape is arguably the setting where this is twisted the most, with the Deva's and Pit Fiends sharing a drink (in Sigil, any way) instead of waging war and the Factions having Good and Evil members both cooperating or at least coexisting for their greater philosophical goal.

Anyway, Animal Lords:

Methinks these so-called 'Animal Lords' are the avatars of the collective spirit of their type of animal. After all, animals can't worship, so they have no Gods, but they do have some level of 'psychic presence' (like a soul in sentient beings) which, in a multiverse where belief can literally move mountains, does generate a certain energy surplus which coalesces in the Animal Lord.

However, their powers as written are not nearly sufficient to make sure their charges are not harmed to a level greater than 'the natural order of things'. Therefore, it seems unlikely they have an actual mission to act as a representative and protector of their species in the greater multiverse, as the Gods do.

So there doesn't seem to be a meaning to them; a reason perhaps, but no purpose. Like animals themselves, they just are.
 

King Snarf

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I'm reviving this thread and taking it over! I love Planescape, and I LOVED the monster books and supplements, as there was some brilliant fluff. Animal Lords were the last entry, so I'll pick it up wit....

Baatezu

First, the overview. Baatezu are the lawful evil fiends from Baator, the Nine Hells. They believe in an intellectual, methodical evil, not unlike the Koch Brothers (ba-zing!). They're described as having a Gothic aesthetic, but honestly, what in Planescape doesn't? Baatezu are divided into three types (technically four, but we'll get to that in a bit)- greater, lesser, and least.

The combat section generally discusses the racial immunities and abilities possessed by the Baatezu as a whole; in general, magic weapons, electricity, and acid are the way to go when fighting these guys.

Next, planar travel. They can't enter the Prime or any Upper Plane unless summoned. I believe that refers to their natural transportation abilities; I think they can use portals just like anybody else, though there would be a host of reasons why they wouldn't.

"Accession" briefly describes how baatezu rise or fall in the ranks. Basically, they're honorable after a fashion and recognize achievement with promotion, but they're not above a bit of cheating as long as they don't get caught.

The Dark Eight describes the highest baatezu, those who set the agenda for their side of the Blood War, the eons long conflict with the tanar'ri to decide the nature of evil.

Next- The Abishai!
 

King Snarf

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Baatezu, Lesser- Abishai



What an odd illustration. That really doesn't convey anything.

Anyway, abishai are gargoyle-like winged fiends that come in three varieties which are, from lowest ranking to highest, black, green, and red. You might remember the abishai as the first fiend you can actually fight in the video game Planescape: Torment, though they're very tough considering when you encounter them.

For combat, they fly, use both claws, and have a poison tail.

They don't really seem to have a well-defined niche, like the other baatezu. They fight intruders on Baator, and try to tempt the stupider mortals to continue to rise up in the ranks.
 
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