D&D Ideas — Demiplane
Welcome once again to the weekly Nerdarchy Newsletter. This week’s topic is demiplane, which we discussed in our exclusive Patreon live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST with Patreon supporters and talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. You can get the Nerdarchy Newsletter delivered to your inbox each week, along with updates and info on how to game with Nerdarchy, by signing up here. The website for Nerdarchy the Convention is live! Our first annual event takes place Halloween weekend 2020 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. We’re hosting this convention for nerds, by nerds in our own little sort of miniature plane with defined limitations and variable traits. As the site continues to grow we’ll be updating regularly with new guests, events and announcements up until it’s time to let the games commence. Check it out here.
From Ted’s Head
Demiplanes are things I love using as a Dungeon Master. With demiplanes there are rules you can break. First and foremost is spatial location. You can place a large space where it can clearly not fit, because it is not actually there. Second you can break any of the typical laws of nature. You want to change gravity? You can in a demiplane. What about changing the nature of spells and the damage they cause? Could fire freeze and cold burn? Sure, if you really wanted to.
Demiplanes also allow you change the theme of the game based on where characters have stumbled into. In Chimes of Discordia, when we first started running this campaign world it was low to medium magic. We did not want a world rich in magic items and having shops that traded magic items. We really wanted to avoid that trope, but we had a long and rich history with magic beyond what the normal D&D setting would do. This history was covered over by the gods. Anytime someone got too uppity or too powerful the gods stepped in and said nope. They were shunted into their own plane of existence, a demiplace.
This weakened the barriers between planes and the Material world. Magic to create demiplanes became easier and allowed many new demiplanes to spring into existence. Some exist at the whim of powerful creatures while others were planned ordeals to create certain events to happen. I even have a new demiplane as the starting hub for the next 5E D&D campaign I will be starting soon.
Demiplanes can be areas of safety for characters or they can be extra layers to your dungeons. Demplanes can be the solutions to your puzzles or the way the villain is able to escape time and time again.
The trick is just to ask how you want to use them and why. In the Curse of Gnar-Kee’Tis campaign demiplanes were how I allowed the characters to get access to their first magic items. As magic items were not common I wanted a way to reward the players, but still play to the world they were adventuring in. As they traveled farther into the world magic items became more available but so too were the demiplanes.
Whether you are looking for a solution to a problem, how to make something happen or what to do next, why not consider having an adventure in a demiplane? They are prepared for a desert, but what if they get sucked into the tundra? What if they are loaded with magic items and find themselves in a place inhabited by massive creatures drawn to magic items because they eat them?
You just have to figure out how it all makes sense to your overall storyline and not seem like you are trying to punish your players. You want to create fun challeneges not cause a TPK.
From the Nerditor’s desk
Demiplanes in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragon might just be a Dungeon Master’s most useful tool. They’re pretty high up on the list at any rate. A demiplane is an alternate dimension with defined space and particular operating procedures different than the standard Material Plane. In other words you can get away with a lot in a demiplane.
Demiplanes are defined best in the description for the xill, a creature found in Mordenkainen’s Fiendish Folio Vol. 1. There’s some nifty creatures in the digital product, which we covered over at the website here.
“Deep within the Ethereal Plane are the demiplanes, miniatures worlds built by powerful archmages and other mighty entities to serve as a private domain. Each demiplane is a designed realm, built for a specific purpose. Some are fortresses, designed to keep wanderers from the material world away. Others are far more sinister, dark realms where evil dreams take root and become ghastly realities.”
One of the most iconic demiplanes exists within the astral dreadnaught, a monstrosity haunting the silvery void of the Astral Plane. But the most famous demiplane of all is the Demiplane of Dread — Ravenloft.
Characters in 5E D&D can take advantage of demiplanes through spells. Demiplane (duh), along with maze, banishment, banishing smite and imprisonment all send creatures to a demiplane.
As a DM tool a demiplane comes in handy in a multitude of ways. Because they’re defined spaces with unusual properties, a demiplane jaunt makes a terrific location for an adventure. I’ve used demiplanes with candy themes, dream realms as campaign hubs for adventurers. In the last case the scenario gets flipped around with a party’s home base inside a demiplane where they can access many other worlds and dimensions.
There’s a tendency for DMs to feel compelled to quantify things in our games but a demiplane can be a little more fast and loose. You might insert a demiplane where everyone’s jump distance is tripled because of lower gravity, or it’s devoid of light or any number of different qualities to give characters an additional level of challenge. Or you could go full on Ravenloft and develop a large — but still confined — space for a campaign with special rules for how things work.