Something Wild Cover

A Walk Through the Planes – Part 29: Something Wild




Thus far, each of Planescape’s major boxed sets (well, not the Player’s Primer to the Outlands, which doesn’t count because it sucks) has been followed by an accompanying module set to capitalize on the new areas it’s covered, and Something Wild is no different, spanning a couple of the more interesting worlds from Planes of Conflict. Frankly, given that the game’s weakest adventures, ones in Well of Worlds and The Deva Spark, were also its only ones not made for this purpose, learning that this is sort of a tie-in is a good thing. Even better, the adventure is by Ray Vallese, who previously wrote The Fires of Dis and in all proved one of the setting’s strongest writers.

The basic gist of Something Wild is that due to the machinations of a somewhat obscure Forgotten Realms god, the Beastlands are out of control and causing its inhabitants, as well as those in Sigil (due to its strong links with, well, everywhere), to act more animalistic and evil. That god, Malar, wants to escape his prison on Carceri, but his plot to do so involves using an especially potent Signer and using his nightmares to infect the multiverse. It maybe doesn’t make the most sense ever, but it’s still an interesting premise that causes havoc within a limited scope. Cool for an adventure idea, even if it’s not the sort of reality-shaping event we saw in Fires of Dis.


Like pretty much every Planescape adventure thus far, Something Wild is broken into three acts, beginning in Sigil and heading out from there. What I like a lot about the investigation here is that it’s in fact two storylines that are later shown to be related, but that is likely not apparent to anyone until they’ve left Sigil. While the animals within the city are going nuts, and many people are particularly violent, there’s also an issue of missing prisoners being trafficked for unsavory purposes in the lower planes. What the players do with these conflicts is really up to them, and while there are some easier plot threads to tug on, even these are interesting and can have implications for future adventures. It’s quite possible players end up as bodyguards for the Planar Trade Consortium, but at the same time never visiting them at all is just as easy. 

Some berks in Planescape reenacting Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

From here, it’s likely players head to either Carceri or the Beastlands, and while it’s presented with chapters in that order, things work well either way and there isn’t much tugging people more in one direction than the other. In Carceri, players most likely become involved in the internecine conflicts from Malar-worshippers and with this discover that he’s somehow related to whatever’s causing such a ruckus in the Beastlands. There’s a very, very short dungeon they’ll need to stumble into at some point, and here PCs may also get some hints about the upcoming major adventure set, Hellbound: The Blood War, but really the story stays focused on those worshippers. There’s a lot of room for roleplaying here, and in true Planescape fashion it’s a scenario that is quite tricky to bash your way through. 

Once players arrive at the Beastlands, they begin a slow transformation into animals. Again, where to go next is quite open, and it’s possible for players to get involved in the conflict between the hilariously unsubtle evil of the Vile Hunt and their enemies the Verdant Guild… or not. Likewise, they might ally with the Cat Lord in order to help her clear her name, as everyone’s been assuming she’s at fault for the nightmares and violence, but she’s also easily ignored. And from there, players probably enter a nightmare and help rescue the dreamer in order to stop his dreams from affecting everyone else…  or, you know, they just kill him and solve the problem the easy way. 


My favorite thing about the adventures Vallesse worked on is how elegantly he meshes a strong story with an open, exploratory approach to plot. Players are free to go where they want, and with Something Wild it’s quite easy for them to visit the adventure’s planes in the “wrong” order, and that’s fine. Neither does killing any particular NPC break the scenario, which is often true of stories from this era. Instead the module relies quite a bit on players motivating themselves, making decisions as to what’s really important, and piecing together the background story. None of this is spoon-fed, and there are multiple approaches to how to get through the whole thing. Major NPCs can either become pivotal to the storyline, or never even make an appearance. 


I resent Adam Rex for doing such a terrible job with the Cat Lord. Disgraceful.

Due to its openness, Something Wild demands a lot from a dungeon master. In this, it feels pretty modern, and also quite fun to actually run1. Linear stories are just as dull for dungeon masters as they are for players, unless you really like moving monsters around maps or something. Every session spent in this module requires decisions and deduction, and I can see it being quite a few if your players are as into roleplaying as my friends tend to be. Sigil, Malar’s realm on Carceri, and the Beastlands are all very much their own worlds, and if you want to add in random encounters or players decide to explore elsewhere (for instance, they decide to get off Carceri without figuring out the portal) then this promises to be somewhat epic. 


That being said, I probably won’t ever run this campaign for my own insane, personal reasons, at least not unless I’m playing with a particularly good-hearted group of PCs. There’s a lot of cats here, and I can’t deal with violence against them—so much so that I tend to not even include them in my novels out of fear the characters will do something bad to them, which I realize sounds absolutely insane but I assure you is, well, ok it’s pretty insane. Whatever. Involving a lot of cats in nightmares risks making players unhappy with them, and yeah I don’t want to deal with that. And if someone tried to hurt the Cat Lord and her friends, then we’re definitely talking Godbolt time, which is maybe not the most satisfying way for a lengthy campaign to come to an end. 

1. Or play through as a character, I suppose, though because I’ve always been the one DMing Planescape campaigns I usually think about them from the DM’s viewpoint. 

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