[Repost from my blog over at gregbilsland.wordpress.com]
I was going through my Magic the Gathering collection the other day, separating the newer card sets from the old ones, when I came across the Planechase set that came out last year. D&D was on my mind, and it gave me an idea. First, a little about the Planechase magic set, though. This set did something that few other magic sets have: It made multi-player Magic fun. The premise is that you, as a powerful spellcaster, are shifting across the planes in an epic battle against a handful of other spellcasters. Every turn, a player rolls the planechase die...
...to see whether the plane shifts to one of his or her planes (determined randomly by drawing from one's own plane deck). Similarly, one can trigger the benefits of a plane by rolling another symbol on the opposite side of the die. For example, in the card below, one's life would become 20 if he or she rolled the correct symbol.
So what does all this have to do with D&D? Well, I was thinking about my campaign, in which the characters have just acquired a planar dromond (Manual of the Planes, page 159). With their new-found liberty to journey the planes, I was trying to think about interesting encounters that could capitalize on the exciting environs of the Elemental Chaos, Feywild, Shadowfell, and Astral Sea. When I saw the Planechase cards, I realized that I could incorporate those into a fun, climactic encounter. Page 34 of Manual of the Planesdiscusses worldfalls, a place where planar energy causes a location to shift from one plane to another. I decided to combine this idea with the Planechase mechanic to create a scenario in which during each PC's turn, a player would roll to see if the plane shifted. If it did, a plane that was beneficial to the PCs would come up. Likewise, the villains would have a deck that would carry the party to a location that benefitted the bad guys.
I haven't had a chance to run the encounter yet, but I'm working on some cards to help build the decks for the encounter.
These are just some rough ideas that I mocked up in photoshop. I don't have the graphic design expertise of the folks over at penny arcade, with their fancy markers and so forth, but I do what I can. Ultimately, I'll probably just use some notecards and scotch tape. I need to get a hold of the rest of the planechase cards, though. I have about 1/3 of the set right now.
To give the PCs even more control over the planeshifting, I'm also thinking about connecting the locations in their deck to the places they've already been. They've begun to collect the sigil sequences of many places across the planes, so if I allow them to use those locations, it will seem like they have more control over the combat encounter (and it should have a fun, nostalgic appeal). I might connect various battle mats to each card, ensuring that I'm not spending half the encounter setting up dungeon tiles for each new location.