[Storming the Wizard's Tower] Planescape

edited January 2012 in Story Games
Spun off from a comment in the [Dungeon World] Planescape thread.
Posted By: Hans c-o
Could you please talk about this a little more? Either here or in another thread? I'm keen to get any and all Planescape actual play discussion!
Storming the Wizard's Tower is a favorite of mine, despite being officially broken, or unplayable, or whatever it officially is. I've run it for a couple campaigns, but it's great for one-shots, because the GM basically creates his/her own character classes as prep, so it lends itself to whatever setting or color you like, and the game mechanics are really simple and intuitive, without being bland or un-fun.

I ran a Planescape game at DC Gameday, a mini-con in these parts, last year.

I don't actually care that much about factions, so right away you can see I'm a Planescape heretic. They're neat, and all, but I think they're just setting fiction, and I've never actually heard of anyone using them in a cool way in a game. So my Planescape game had NO FACTIONS AT ALL and I am unrepentant.

What Planescape Games Should Have
  • Visits to other planes, preferably by means of clever, secret doors
  • Demons and other planar monsters
  • Scenes in Sigil
  • Cool Planescape races/monsters, like bariaur and tieflings
  • Byzantine plots and intrigues that the players don't actually have to learn that much about or care about
  • Powerful NPCs with murky agendas who don't bail the PCs out or kill them
The Characters

You can check out the characters online here.

They're not quite StWT street-legal, but I've played enough to be able to gauge how much extra abilities to give pre-gens without making it hard to run.

The Game

So, in my game, the players are chilling out in Sigil, when (of course) a big, complicated plot lands on them, involving a Box Filled With Evil, and a hound archon dying of terrible wounds. Then they get attacked by some were-badger assassins, and try to figure out Hey, why did those guys attack us? And what's up with this box filled with evil? And who tried to kill that dog-headed angel? Then they run around Sigil talking to their contacts (each PC has one on their sheet), and get Important Clues, and try to figure out some stuff having to do with portals, and then they go to a demon lord's birthday party on a sinister demiplane, where they have to be disguised and fight some demon guards and a water naga guarding a well (I can't remember why, exactly), and escape, triumphant.

Planescape is D&D's no-holds-barred setting. Take any cool thing you like from any D&D book ever, and it fits right in perfectly. In fact, the weirder and more incompatible the things you choose, the more Planescape-y your game becomes. It's perfect.

I can talk more about specific monsters I made, if that's useful. I have my game notes here somewhere.


  • It sounds like you ran it as a mystery--that is, the goal of the players was to solve your mystery. Is that right, or wrong?

    (thanks for the thread btw).
  • edited January 2012
    Not a mystery, exactly. My big set piece was a demon lord's birthday party, so I gave the characters a few reasons to want to crash it, and a few pathways to get there. For a campaign game, that's not the structure I'd use, but for a con game it seemed appropriate.

    Like Apocalypse World, Storming the Wizard's Tower has pretty cool social mechanics; it's the same deal, where you roll your social-type skill and spend hold to ask the GM questions during the in-game conversation. Which fits well into a Planescape game, where the characters are dealing with various NPCs that they can't or shouldn't be fighting - demons, agents of mysterious powers, information brokers, and so on.
  • Heya Brian,

    Thanks for the thread! And ignoring Factions ;) I've played both AW, DW, and StWT. Is there a difference in the play styles across these games that you've seen? I could see Planescape being pulled off with either AW, DW, StWT. Basically I am trying to figure out what does StWT do that they other two don't. Thanks!

  • Good question! I’m not sure I have an answer.

    I mentioned my Storming game in the previous thread to make the point that AW would probably work great for Planescape, since the two are similar games in many ways, or at least have some similar mechanics.

    I used Storming because a) I know it pretty well, b) it’s easy to play, and c) it’s got a high fun-to-learning ratio, all of which make it a great engine for one-shots.

    I think AW is a deeper game, and I’d be all over that if I had a regular group that wanted to play Planescape.
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