Jeremy Morgan

Written by Jeremy Morgan, tabletop games editor, gamer, and software developer.
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Planescape 4E - The Gray Languor

24 September 2011

The Lady of Pain's Crest

Today is part 2 of our planar ecology for the Gray Waste. Last time I talked about the overall planar effect of the Gray Waste. Today I’m going to talk about the horizon that will give tension to adventuring here. The horizon - if you’ve done your reading - drives the adventurers forward, increasing the tension and raising the stakes.

My Legs Feel So Heavy

Just walking within the Gray Waste is tiresome. The drab environment is merely a reflection of the attitude of this plane, that of weariness, apathy, or despair. The longer an entity stays, the less their chance of being capable of leaving is. This is something I would recommend the adventurers know going in (Rule Zero applies here as always ” though). The actual effects I would keep in my pocket until the horizon advances a bit.

Horizon: The Gray Languor


The following actions cause Languor to rise:

  • Taking an extended rest (raise by 2)
  • Failing a death saving throw (up to a max of 2).
  • Rolling a 6 or below on any d20 roll (up to a max of 2).

The following actions lower languor:

  • “Winning” an encounter or skill challenge.

The Gray Languor

  • Lack of Vitality (2 advances): The characters begin to move more slowly as the plane begins to drain some vitality. Each character loses a healing surge and their speed is reduced by one.
  • Ennui Sets In (5 advances): As the grayness of the plane wears on the players, the party must make Endurance checks (DC 20) for every day of travel. Failing an endurance check advances the Languor.
  • All Hope is Lost (13 advances): One of the characters (determined randomly) must make a DC 20 skill check or become a larva.

The DM is encouraged to be open with what skills to allow, if the player can come up with a plausible or reasonable use for the skill. And yes, you read that correctly - a larva. I’ll discuss that next time.

Closing Thoughts

Notice that this horizon is almost certain to progress with little that the characters can do to stop it. To that, all I can say is that adventuring on the planes is dangerous, berk. If you don’t want to end up in the deadbook, don’t go. Many thanks to Quinn Murphy for his help on this one.


chad said:

I like it! Very nice!

The penalty to Speed is interesting, too; it’s a big deal to a few character types, but even those who don’t care a lot will notice the effect right away. I’d be tempted to put in some effect on running and charging (probably something like “Save required; on a failure, you move your speed instead”), but that’s because I like to tweak.

I would probably also set a per-extended-rest maximum on decreases and on increases from failed death saves and low rolls (it’s not clear to me from what you have if there’s a period for the listed maximums).

TriskalJM said:

The horizon starts at zero.

For every extended rest the party takes, the horizon advances by 2 (notice the first extended rest immediately throws them into the first stage of the horizon, the speed penalty and surge loss).

For every failed death save (up to a max of 2 per encounter), the horizon advances by one.

By rolling a 6 or lower on any d20 roll (up to a max of 2 per encounter), the horizon advances by one.

The party can successfully lower the horizon by one for every encounter they “win.”

So, it’s possible to slow down the effects of the Gray Languor by heroically soldiering on, but eventually it’s going to set in and one of them will end up a larva.

Hopefully that clears things up. If it does, I’ll make some edits to the post for clarity.

Simon T. Vesper said:

I love it! Totally gonna use it for my game, too. I have a suggestion: it seems that you haven’t mentioned the “menace” aspect; you’ve only talked about a plane’s effect and horizon. They way I would incorporate the menace mechanic is to give the DM a pool of action points based on the presence of the player characters in that plane. For every extended rest the characters take, the DM gains 1 action point. He can use that action point for any NPC or monster in any encounter, and he can use it as any creature might use an action point. For me, this mechanic applies whenever the players visit other planes for extended periods of time.

But I also had a thought, based on your treatment of the Gray Wastes: in addition to having a shared pool of action points, the plane itself can grant native NPCs and monsters a special action, accessible with action points, similar to the action point abilities of paragon paths. Thing is, when I think of how to apply it to the Gray Wastes, I see problems. The idea of action points seems to run counter to the idea of the Wastes. So, what if, instead of the menace mechanic, the Gray Wastes just drain the characters of action points? After each extended rest, when the party would normally begin with 1 action point, they instead start with 0.

I know, this mechanic only really works if applied to all the planes (as I’m working on for my game). For your version, it could be a part of the horizon, or even just the plane’s basic effect.

TriskalJM said:

The menace comes from the advancement of the the Gray Languor. Everything begins normally, then there’s some draining (the speed and loss of healing surge). This progresses to the party making Endurance checks to keep traveling. The real menace is the final effect, which was set to go up today, but it looks like that post will be tomorrow instead.

I see your point, though. I need another condition around 9 or so, that does something. The action point is a good idea, and one I may have to consider.

I’d probably stick it in the horizon, as I’d like to minimize the number of basic effects per plane.