The Revenge of Pettiness

Orroloth's picture
Recommended Levels: Low (1-7)
The multiverse is ruled by the big players... gods, proxies, natural forces, powerful metaphysical concepts such as love, hate... but the average person’s life isn’t always affected by that. Smaller things rule the lives of smaller people: spite, boredom, humor, style... and pettiness. They are not as fundamentally good or evil as many other things, nor are they glamorous and widely known to manifest themselves, but they do manifest themselves, although it most often goes unnoticed.

These less important concepts might really be physically represented in the Planescape cosmology, personified and real as anything. The PCs might still be surprised when the ghost of a concept offers them a job.

Adventure background:

Everybody thought that Pettrie was unremarkable. He worked in Sigil’s Lower Ward as a grocer, quietly going through life as a productive, if a little spiteful, member of society. It is true that he didn’t have all that many friends. Indeed, the extent of his socializing consisted of being mean to people in his own, small way. Refusing to service people who he felt that had slighted him in any – however small – way, for example, was only one of the many ways that Pettrie let his pettiness be felt. Back-talking anyone he was envious of was another. People didn’t really notice that Pettrie did more of this than almost anyone else... after all, this sort of behavior was common, to a certain extent, in most sods. Nobody really cared when they heard that Pettrie had been killed during an armed robbery.

Nobody except Pettrie himself, of course, who was far more powerful than his killers could have imagined.

He was the physical manifestation of the Lower Ward’s pettiness... feeding on small differences amongst the common people, gaining strength whenever someone spoke ill of another, or quietly discriminated against or felt envious of someone. Concepts are harder to kill than most things.

Thus, the ghost of Pettrie rose with but one thing in mind... revenge – a petty feeling in itself.

Justice isn’t enough...

The most likely reason for Pettrie’s ghost to seek out the PCs is partly because of their competence – they are planewalkers, after all – and partly because of chance, since they are simply in Lower Ward (or wherever you wish to place Pettrie’s grocery store... or any other kind of store, for that matter. A weapon’s shop, or a general store will do just as well, if it results in an easier way to hook the PCs).

Perhaps the PCs once bought goods from him, or are perhaps they bought goods from him the day before he was murdered. Or perhaps they know a distant relative of his, who is constantly plagued by nightmares (caused by the late Pettrie), demanding that he find a way to revenge him.

At any rate, Pettrie will somehow contact the PCs, appearing before them as a ghost who has been terribly wronged (and he has indeed been wronged – but the PCs will soon find out that it’s not justice that the ghost is out to get).

During this meeting, the avatar of Pettiness tries to latch himself onto one of the PCs in order to feed of the small-minded pettiness that it has set out to generate in order to resurrect itself. The DM should give the PC a small chance to figure this out (such as a saving throw), and if he does, the ghost will simply follow them around in stead of actually possessing one of them.

The ghost gives a vague description of the murderers and promises to reveal where his life-long collection of gold is stashed should they be successful in revenging him (the avatar never intends to reveal this to them). However, the first demand he makes is that his murderers will not simply be turned over to the law – the PCs must deal out justice themselves. If the PCs refuse, he will grudgingly accept it, but will try as he can to change their mind during the hunt for the killers.

Pettiness wherever they go

During the investigation (which can be as difficult as the DM wants it to be), the PCs will notice that something really strange is going on. Wherever they go, they encounter pettiness in people questioned by them (due, of course, to Pettrie either possessing one of the PCs or following them around, feeding on the stirring of negative, small-minded emotions).

Some ideas for encounters during the investigation:

  1. A couple of Harmonium officers are having a shouting match in the middle of a busy street – because they can’t agree on who should walk in front and who should trail. Their fellows stand slack-jawed nearby, not knowing what to make of this. If the officers aren’t somehow snapped back to reality, they draw swords and start fighting.  
  2. A dangerous tanar’ri (exact type should be adjusted according to the PCs level) declares that none shall leave the area alive unless they pronounce the tanar’ri as superior to the baatezu. Incredibly, the local population is largely refusing. The PCs might have to intervene to prevent mass murder.  
  3. Two old gypsy women (possibly of some planar race) which lived nearby Pettrie’s house think they may have seen the killers. During the interview, the old women start arguing heatedly about the most minute of details...until one of them suddenly points an accusing finger to the possessed PC. “You’re doing this, aren’t you? You’re just like him... like Pettrie!” she shouts, then refuses to say anything more. The old women then slam the door in the PCs face.  
  4. A lupinal guardinal, casually passing by the PCs, seems to suffer some sort of convulsion as he walks past them. The celestial’s very nature is being altered by Pettrie’s presence, which is triggering a defense mechanism in the guardinal’s armor – which is specifically enchanted to cause pain to those who have impure thoughts.

Finally, the killers

The PCs shouldn’t be bombarded too heavily with clues. If the PCs start to become too suspicious, Pettrie will immediately stop the attacks. It isn’t until the PCs finally hunt down the killers (the DM can make this as difficult or as easy as he or she sees fit) that the ghost reveals himself again.

The killers are actually quite pathetic. They are a bunch of bubbers from the Hive Ward, and they were simply holding up Pettrie’s shop for jink so they could buy a round of bub. It was Pettrie’s presence that caused them to start arguing with each other and then fight, during which one of them stabbed Pettrie by accident.

They don’t put up much of a fight, but claim that they were under the influence of an evil spell. At this point, Pettrie tries to take over one of the PCs again, using his ghostly possession ability. At the same time, he uses his influence to cause infighting among the PCs (treat as a confusion or similar spell). If he fails to take over a PC, he will take over one of the bubbers, who are far easier targets.

It is up to the PCs to avoid killing each other and preferably save the poor bubbers as well.


Can the concept of pettiness really be destroyed, or will he always return as long as people are people? More importantly, does he constitute as a god... and if so, why hasn’t the Lady of Pain done something about him. Are there avatars of other concepts hovering around Sigil?

Certainly, some of the factions might be interested in this chant, especially the Godsmen and the Signers. And once the big players are involved, anything could happen.

Clueless's picture
Joined: 2008-06-30
The Revenge of Pettiness

I suppose part of this will be the skill of the GM in not making the players *too* frustrated with the situation... and making the rewards seem worth it. Smiling I absolutely adore the idea though of a concept living like that in th emost uunexpected of places.

Shemeska the Marauder's picture
Joined: 2004-04-26
The Revenge of Pettiness

Fraggin cool concept. Reminds me once again why I adore your stuff ^.^

Krypter's picture
Joined: 2004-05-11
The Revenge of Pettiness

Pretty cool. The only problem I can see with this is that the players may very well get frustrated with the GM before they can finish the story.

Planescape, Dungeons & Dragons, their logos, Wizards of the Coast, and the Wizards of the Coast logo are ©2008, Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc. and used with permission.