Petitioners, Planars and population

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glaucon
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Petitioners, Planars and population

Bear with me...

I've been running a PS campaign since the Fall of '95. Over that time, there's been one sticking point that has confounded me, and has therefore caused me to do my best to steer clear of as much as possible. Despite perusing all the source material, I've never been able to identify a definitive answer. And so, I appeal to the collective knowledge here:

Are petitioners corporeal?

I've always figured that, on any given plane, the vast majority of the population are going to be petitioners. Actual planar natives are going to be substantially represented of course, contingent on the plane in question, but, petitioners would have the edge given that they're essentially immigrants coming through welcoming borders from inexhaustible sources.

So it seems to be the case that petitioners are everywhere; the 'common people' on any given plane. But, they're essentially the relocated spirits of the once alive persons from wherever it was they lived their life. So, the source material simultaneously made me think them to be either corporeal or non-corporeal. Being unable to pin down the answer to this has vexed me for years.

Sure, I've always been able to deal with it, or, more accurately, avoid it, given that it's typically easier to make use of planars but, there are cases where I've thought it would make more sense to use a petitioner.

So, taking it as granted that it's difficult to do so, given the diverse nature of all the planes, generally speaking, do you treat petitioners as corporeal or non-corporeal?

Or, have I simply missed the actual concrete answer in a text somewhere?

TIA

D_E
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Petitioners are as you

Petitioners are as you described, the common folk of the Planes. Descriptions of the general characteristics of petitioners on each Plane can be found in the Planescape Campaign Setting (In the DM Guide to the Planes), and general rules of all petitioners can be found in the Players Guide ("The majority of bodies on the planes are petitioners, which are the departed spirits of primes and planars whose bodies reformed on the plane that matches their previous alignment or devotion. [etc.]").

Petitioners are definitely corporeal, as a rule, and even be killed (in which case they merge with their home plane if killed there, or fade into oblivion if killed on some other plane. Shockingly enough, it is noted that they don't like to travel).

In 3e, the Manual of the Planes has brief templates that can be used to create petitioners for each plane. 3e petitioners are not able to leave their home plane, as a general rule.

glaucon
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Thanks for the response D_E.

Thanks for the response D_E.

I suspected as much, given my familiarity with the material you reference. My quibble was that it's never made explicit anywhere that they're corporeal. Thus, my concern.

Your comments have reminded me of another question that arises then: what would you say would be the time delay between corporeal death and corporeal reformation with respect to the death of a planar?
Assuming they die on the plane/layer/realm that they're spirit would be directed to, I've always wondered what the interim non corporeal state interim would be...

Palomides
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Miles to Go Before I Sleep

I suppose it depends on how your campaign deals with death.

For example, I take inspiration from tales of dead souls having to pass through a number of barriers and/or judgements to eventually reach their final afterlife. I also say that this limits how long a soul can be called back from death (haven't gone through the last gate = can be resurrected; already a soul in Mt. Celestia = too late, short of divine intervention)

So for my system, a mortal soul who died on the planes will still go off on his underworld journey for a couple of weeks before reappearing as a petitioner (even if he eventually re-appears back on the same plane on which he died). This also prevents a planar dying in combat and then simply rising a moment later as a fully-healed petitioner ("It was only a flesh wound!")

Regarding how long the journey of the soul takes? My system grants me some flexibility. If one of the PCs die and the rest can't raise the funds to resurrect him for two weeks, I don't say "Gosh darn, you missed the deadline by 15 minutes"; I just say that the dead PC hadn't moved on to his final reward yet.
For NPCs, pick whatever length of time makes sense. Perhaps the pious move through their tests a little faster and the heretics get lost and waylaid for longer periods. But ultimately, make up whatever length of time serves your narrative the best.

D_E
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Quote:My quibble was that it

Quote:
My quibble was that it's never made explicit anywhere that they're corporeal. Thus, my concern.

Ah, my take on that would be that it would be more likely for the petitioners to be fully corporeal, and for the text to never explicitly mention that, than for incorporeality to go unmentioned (since incorporeality would have radical implications for interacting with petitioners). In 3e incorporeality would definitely need to be explicitly conferred by the petitioner templates, so by 3e the petitioners are definitely corporeal.

However, by my memory there are very few petitioners actually featured in 2e Planescape adventures. I know there's a cat petitioner from the Beastlands in The Great Modron March, and Factol Whats-His-Name in... Faction War? The Factol's Manifesto? I checked over the Great Modron March adventure, and while I don't think the cat ever does anything that definitively implies he's corporeal, there are paper-pusher-petitioners mentioned in passing that would have a hard time pushing paper if they couldn't touch anything. As for the other thing, for the Factol-is-a-petitioner thing to be a secret, he more-or-less has to be corporeal, since otherwise the game would be up the instant he needed to open a door or pick up a book or something.

Quote:
Your comments have reminded me of another question that arises then: what would you say would be the time delay between corporeal death and corporeal reformation with respect to the death of a planar?

What Palomides said sounds like a good way to explain delays between death and petitioner formation. I would also add that, since planes are infinite and petitioners lose their memories, it's probably pretty hard to tell how long it takes for a petitioner to form, since the odds against meeting one of someone you knew must be astronomical.

Quote:
Assuming they die on the plane/layer/realm that they're spirit would be directed to, I've always wondered what the interim non corporeal state interim would be...

Regardless of where the planar dies, they probably go through the same process as anyone else, whatever that process is. I think it's canon that the person's memories end up in a memory core on the Astral Plane, suggesting that all dead souls pass through the astral. If their soul needs to be judged by their pantheon, that process would still need to happen, even if they are ultimately returned to the plane they died on. Basically:

Death->memory separation on astral->pantheon-based-judgement or natural like-attracts-like sorting process->petitioner forms on appropriate plane, which may be the same plane the person was on before they died.

glaucon
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Thanks

Thanks to both Palomides and D_E.

Thanks for the confirmation Palomides. Your answer pretty much is how I've been playing it out. However:

Thanks to D_E for your response. Which also raises questions...

Yes, I too noticed how oddly absent petitioners were in the majority of the modules. That's what got my wheels spinning around these questions. I was recently re-reading all the modules and couldn't help but notice the absence. Particularly when contrasted with how frequently petitioners are mentioned in the various rule books.

Regarding the cat: again, yep, it's that vagary that was my cause for concern.

Regarding last paragraph: lots to unpack here. I'd never assumed that every soul must pass into the Astral and then back. Just off the top of my head, wouldn't that throw a bit of a kink into the Blood War? I mean, the fact that Tanarri, Baatezu and even Yugoloth all avoid, in their own ways, the 'final death' of being killed on their home plane at least seems to indicate that their reformation is pretty much instantaneous ( though problematic for each in their own way).
Alternatively, what about the Modrons, or, I think, the Gehreleths, which always have a constant finite population?

hmm
Got my wheels spinning again...

D_E
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Oh, I was thinking of "planar

Oh, I was thinking of "planar" as "plane-born mortal" rather than "exemplar" there. The exemplar don't lose their memories after death, so the above reasoning doesn't really apply to them.

I think that exemplar reformation (or replacement, for the Modrons at least) is pretty much instantaneous, but I don't know of any canon sources on the matter. Sciborg's Blade of Innocence has a depiction of the process that I really like; however, the story seems to have disappeared off the 'net due to the great WotC forums debacle.

glaucon
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Ditto

Yeah, I was using it in your second sense as well: "plane-born mortal".
What do you mean by "exemplar"?

D_E
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It's a catch-all term for the

It's a catch-all term for the major outer-planar outsider types: the Tanarri/Baatezu/Modrons/Archons/etc. They exemplify their alignments, and typically arose directly from their home planes in some way. I'm not sure where the term originated, I can't recall if it's used in any 2e or even 3e material.

Here's a slightly longer reference: https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/80408/is-there-an-iconic-monster-or-creature-for-each-alignment

glaucon
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Nice

Thanks again D_E.

Interesting.
Way back when Planescape just came out, but after all 4 main boxed sets were released, I put together my own list of what I called the predominant planar native, for each plane. Basically I wanted a quick reference for each plane that identified what creature a PC party would, in highest likelihood run into if they ended up on that plane. The reference you link is quite similar, though based on the concept of Alignment as opposed to 'birth' location.

So you'd say that, for each exemplar race, assuming they die on their native plane, there's no memory loss?

Palomides
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Memories

Even if it isn't canon, I'd recommend that exemplars keep their memories. That way, any fiend the PCs kill can hold a grudge