Posted on June 21, 2018
For my second tabletop experience back in college, our DM decided to run a 3.0 Planescape campaign for our gaming group. To get our feet wet, he took me and a friend of ours on a mini-adventure as an introduction to the bizarre setting.
We started off normally enough, as a couple of failed pirates on the Sea of Fallen Stars in the Forgotten Realms. We had befallen the local authorities, who had came up with an unorthodox punishment for our crimes—they lashed us to the deck of a dingy and sent us through a watery portal to Hell. In particular, we found ourselves in Avernus, the first layer Baator, the realm of chaotic evil.
After freeing ourselves, we interrogated an imp to get our bearings and made small talk with a crazy witch who lived there. Through her we learned that there were portals that could take us back home, if only we had the right sort of key (which could be anything from a physical object to a thought). She directed us to talk to a pillar of talking skulls, tormented spirits of great knowledge who also happened to be traitors and liars.
Through intimidation and a lucky guess on who to trust we got a half-truth to our question regarding the way back home. There was a portal atop a nearby hill, and the key was brick from the Great Avernus Road, which was also fortunately accessible. Well, accessible might not be the right term. It was close, but it was also covered in demon patrols.
We were sneaky sorts, however, and managed to snag ourselves a brick unnoticed. But before we had gone too far with our prize, we were spotted by one of the countless legions of bloodthirsty monsters. So we ended up with a horde of demons at our backs, screaming for our souls. Fireballs were bursting around us, and we had nearly made it to our destination when we were confronted by the scariest sight yet—a harmless-looking old man begging us a favor of taking a package through with us when we left.
Well-versed in the dangers of wolves in sheep's clothing, we refused. There wasn't much time left before the horde chasing us would devour us, and in a flash the old man transformed himself into a ferocious demon lord, which made him much more persuasive. We acquiesced to his request.
Except, you know, pirates. We dropped his package right before stepping through, and got to listen to his howls, earning ourselves a powerful enemy right off the bat.
Such was our journey to the legendary city of doors, Sigil, the center of the multiverse. The skull had lied, promising us a way home, when all he did was send us to a place we could hardly fathom, and was only marginally safer then the hells. Finding our slice of the multiverse was going to be a challenge, one we never actually decided to tackle. Why be a pirate conquering the seas, when you can be a pirate dominating the very planes of existence?
We had many great adventures both in the city and traveling between the planes, but the truly lasting memory of the campaign actually occurred in this first session. On our path to the pillar of skulls, we found ourselves confronted with a river of blood we needed to cross. It was described as ‘Roiling with the souls of the damned’. My character shrugged his shoulders and waded in, but my more practical friend decided he didn't want to get blood in or on his nice pair of boots.
So as he carefully waded across barefoot, he let forth the line that still makes me laugh over ten years later: "The souls, they're squishy between my toes!"