The Planes in an Oriental Setting

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wiseman's picture
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The Planes in an Oriental Setting

Planescape and D&D in general is geared towards western fantasy. The setup of the planes is mostly based around western mythology and the creatures that dwell within it are as well.
However, I'm currently tossing around an oriental inspired setting that's mostly Japanese influenced. I'm using the standard planescape but I was wondering how to adapt things to an oriental feel. The outer planes are where I need the most advice as the inner are very easy to add stuff to (the emperor of the setting is actually a Noble Dao/earth spirit).

How well would many creatures and planes work if I were to try this (mostly focusing on the Abyss, Baator and Celestia and going from there)?

Last seen: 3 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: 2010-06-26 14:37
Let's Not Reinvent the Kharmic Wheel

I had a similar question. Since I didn't want to spend years in researching Eastern religious beliefs, I started with the template used for the "Legend of the Five Rings" campaign. [if you want the link]

A lot of their ideas had a lot of parallels to existing Planescape planes. The planes listed for Lot5R are:

Ningen-do: This is their term for the Prime

Chikushudo: A Realm of (Talking) Animals.
This could be tied to the Beastlands without too much difficulty

Gaki-do: The "Realm of the Hungry Dead". This was a realm of punishment for those who lived their life selfishly or dishonorably. Gaki-do was a featureless plain of undulating organic material
You could tie this to Gehenna (my choice), the Grey Wastes or the Abyss depending on how you interpret it

Jigoku: The Realm of Evil, a realm of pure and darkest evil and the source of the oni. Much of Jigoku was nearly formless and shapeless. The realm itself was a maelstrom of pain and suffering, with the yokai spirits being constantly hounded and tortured by oni
I equated this with the Abyss but you could use it for a generic term for any of the Lower Planes

Meido: The Realm of Waiting. This was the domain of Emma-o, the Fortune of Death, as well as the Lords of Death. It was in this Spirit Realm that the deceased await judgement and their eventual fates. Meido was a bleak, grey realm-- colorless, nearly featureless
This could easily be the Grey Wastes (or its outskirts)

Sakkaku: The Realm of Mischief. It was home to many creatures which were often mislabeled as evil but were really just chaotic.
I have more planes than standard in my campaign so I had a perfect match. But you might make this a section of one of the chaotic planes

Tengoku: Also known as the Celestial Heavens was home to virtually all of the Fortunes, as well as the Elemental Dragons and the Sun and Moon. All but two of the Emperors of Rokugan resided there after ascending upon their deaths.
This might equate to the higher levels of Celestia

Toshigoku: The Realm of Slaughter. Souls who died in senseless battle or thinking of revenge were sent here after death. It was a Realm of constant never-ending battle, wherein spirits would slay one another only to rise again and repeat the process endlessly
Fits in nicely with Acheron

Yomi was the Realm of Blessed Ancestors. Those mortals who had fulfilled their destinies and their kharma were allowed to enter this realm upon their deaths
Possibly Arcadia or the lower levels of Celestia or perhaps a term for several of the good planes

Yume-do: The Realm of Dreams. A churning chaotic mess of dreamscapes
Seems to fit in with Limbo

The planes that don't match up to anything may have to be considered "distant" so that not a lot of mortals have seen them and this few/none have recorded them in their tomes. Or you could just say that planes that don't thematically fit (e.g. the Norse-dominated Ysgard) doesn't exist or are inaccessible. Or you will have to overhaul them significantly.

Are you planning to modify Sigil to give it an Asian atmosphere? That might prove more difficult but I always enjoy a challenge

wiseman's picture
Last seen: 4 years 3 months ago
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No. This is meant to be along

No. This is meant to be along side other D&D settings. I always figured that different worlds interacted with different areas of the same planes so I wanted an area and outsiders that had an asian feel to them. I could easily refluff many celestials if it's necessary at all.

Vaevictis Asmadi
Vaevictis Asmadi's picture
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Questions about Rokugan

If using Rokugan itself as a Prime Material world, to what extent would it mess up Rokugan's setting to move its Spirit Realms to the Outer Planes? Do the spirit worlds sometimes overlap with or come into conjunction with Ningen-Do, like Eberron's orbiting planes do? I thought that Jigoku was coexistent with parts of Ningen-Do called Shadowlands.

In my own attempt to collect/relate other settings into the Planescape cosmology, Eberron and Ningen-Do are "orbited" by demiplanes in the Astral. This was how I preserved Eberron's complex relations to its planes.

Does Yume-do fit as an Ethereal region? I stuck Dal Quor in the Ethereal, instead of the Astral like Eberron's other planes, because dreamscapes go in the Ethereal.

Having read a bunch of that Wiki, I see the spirit realms there have some distinct differences from D&D's Outer Planes.

1. The Spirit Realms are connected directly to each other, but not arranged in a 2D wheel. I tried to map how they're connected to each other, and concluded you'd need a 3D or 4D arrangement to make it accurate. This doesn't matter if you're only using L5R Spirit Realms as inspiration, though.

2. More significantly, when people from Ningen-Do die, they go to an afterlife determined by their karma, but when their bad karma is used up by punishment they get reincarnated back in Ningen-Do. Both Narakas (hells) and Heavens are temporary afterlives in real Hinduism and Buddhism, and that's an important theological part of those religions, but it's contrary to the eternal afterlives of D&D. When D&D dead folks show up in Outer Planes as petitioners, they're either there forever, or get killed somehow and absorbed permanently into an Outer Plane.

Jem's picture
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The Chinese and Shinto

The Chinese and Shinto pantheons have a canonical presence in older versions of D&D. For example, the "Teardrop Palace" of Sung Chiang is on Gehenna. Shang Ti heads the Celestial Bureaucracy from the Jade Palace on Mechanus. Etc. So having domains which are ruled by particular gods, served by celestials that are flavored by those deities, is canonical and quite easy.

Likewise there are a number of canonical oriental-inspired monsters, such as good ki-rin and foo creatures, as well as any number of evil ones.

Many gods of the sun are housed on Mt. Celestia, including Amaterasu. Other Japanese and Chinese deities listed here include Chung Kuel, Kuan Yin, and the Shichifukujin (referred to in the text as Shifukujin). Although the archons govern Mt. Celestia and many of the petitioners unbound to a deity are primarily concerned with advancement along the paths of faith that they hope will lead them to Chronias, petitioners in the realm of a god usually prefer to stay where they are and can ignore that idea. However, the Eightfold Path is one of the recognized paths up the mountains.

Baator is very firmly shaped and ruled by the baatezu. I see no Chinese or Japanese powers listed there.

The Abyss gives powers free rein. A reasonably powerful chaotic evil deity could rule a layer there and almost never have to deal with any nonnatives on the rest of the plane, if they wanted and their worship on the Prime was strong enough. Stick any likely candidates there that you want.

Is this what you're looking for, or can I be of more help by providing some other sort of information?