Into the Silver Realm

A Walk Through the Planes – Part 7.375: Into the Silver Realm




I’ve been doing my best to be as thorough as possible in documenting every remotely major release that TSR/WotC published with information about the planes1, but I must admit that despite the already-insane length of this series, it’s not actually a dissertation. Which is another way of saying that I’m not actually reading through every single issue of Dragon, Dungeon, Polyhedron, and every other obscure release to come out of that company, I’m instead relying upon those fans much crazier than I am who have done so in the past, and with this tried to document things for the rest of us. As the numbering of this series quite clearly attests, with me jamming new entries in as I find out about their existence, sometimes this slipshod methodology hasn’t been the best. I think this is the last pre-Planescape release I’m going to cover, but I’ve thought that before, and, well, look at that number in the title. 

But no matter, I still wanted to take a look at “Into the Silver Realm” before covering Planescape’s A Guide to the Astral Plane. While we’ve already seen Roger Moore take a crack at an Astral adventure with “Fedifensor” in Dragon Magazine and Bill Slavicsek do his typical blandest with his own Astral jaunt with “Into the Astral Plane” from Tales of the Outer Planes, I believe that’s all the appearances it’s actually made thus far. Which is a pity, because it’s a strange realm with all sorts of difficult-yet-interesting rules that change D&D in fun ways, though at the same time it’s also pretty understandable. The place is supposed to be pretty barren, at least it is until Monte Cook got ahold of it, plus there’s those extra rules, and the fact that it’s just plain too difficult for most parties to even get there. All three of these Astral adventures thus far are introductions to the location and little more. As I said, I get it, really, but it also feels like a bit of waste considering the potential. 

The art, which is actually pretty solid, is by David O. Miller. The standard for second edition AD&D was so much higher than for first.

The adventure’s author Steve Kurtz had also read those works cited above, and introduces the adventure by saying, “‘Into the Silver Realm’ was inspired by OP1 Tales of the Outer Planes and “Fedfensor” (Dragon magazine issue #67), both of which featured githyanki strongholds in the Outer Planes but downplayed or completely ignored the pivotal role of psionics in Githyanki strategy and combat.” This intro amuses me largely because it also points out why it’s pretty unimaginable to actually run this adventure, but I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s do a little summarizing first. 


A githzerai sorceress (the Limbo dudes) finds out about a githyanki (the Astral dudes) incursion into the Forgotten Realms and decides to trick random adventurers into stopping this. The whole setup is a bit goofy, but kind of makes sense I guess, even though she’s a very powerful mage and mostly just seems to like messing with people because she can. Later in the adventure, she literally gives the party makeup-based disguises even though she could easily do a much better job hiding their identities with spells, so that’s the kind of person you’re dealing with here, which is to say a low-level sociopath. 

And I believe the maps were by Diesel, though I’m not 100% positive on this. He’s at least the cartographer in the magazine’s front credits.

This leads the group to a quite dangerous, ambush-filled githyanki hideout, that then links to an insanely dangerous githyanki castle in the Astral Plane. The players need to make their way through this in order to get information about how to shut down a permanent portal the githyanki have made. Though the players probably won’t succeed, they will probably die, because the actual fights here are insane. It’s the type of adventure players aren’t supposed to survive, and even worse, the type that requires a truly demented DM to try and run.


The only write-up I found in the extremely-rudimentary Google search I did while researching this adventure was from Ten Foot Pole, who at one time tried to read through every single issue of Dungeon in the type of masochistic effort I fully salute:


I’m not sure it’s actually possible to play this adventure, it’s so complex. Or, rather, the creatures are so complex. Essentially the characters will be invading a Githyanki complex near Neverwinter. Inside they will face about 8 different types of Githyanki opponents, each with a complex array of different powers that the DM must be familiar with. Once this task is done the party must then travel to the astral plane and do it all over again, but this time in a fortress of about 100 Githyanki … each with powers and ability and immunities and strategies to keep track of.  … With the advent of the Splat Book we now have an adventure that needs all the core, plus Complete Psionics, plus Tome of Magic, and also maybe Manual of the Planes and the Outer Planes Appendix to the Monstrous Compendium. And you need to be familiar with all the Githyanki sub-types and their powers.

If this doesn’t sound miserable to you, then I suspect you’re some sort of alien being, or perhaps part modron. High-level adventures are a slog at the best of times, but adding in the quite poor rules for psionics, and then the additional rules for the Astral Plane, makes for a painful result. The concept of a githyanki excursion into the prime being subverted by a hidden githzerai is good, but the level of expertise expected here is absurd. Most Dungeon-era adventures aren’t terribly interesting to me, but this one does very little to go above the previous Astral adventures, and by piling on the sources is also by far the most complicated journey there so far. I’m sure some people are committed enough to make this happen, but I for one am not into D&D for this type of nonsense.

The adventure’s random slaad doesn’t make a ton of sense, but I still like him.

The main thing I do particularly like about “Into the Silver Realm” is how much it focuses on the githyanki/githzerai conflict, as well as the now much-more-developed githyanki mythology. These races were pretty ill-defined as of first edition, but by now there are elements such as their horrible demi-god lich queen who devours any 12th level githyanki that are well-integrated into the adventure. There hadn’t been a ton written about either the githyanki or githzerai at this point, but everything we had seen before is used as canon here. This adventure is nuts to play through, but at least it does feel like a genuine skirmish between these interplanar forces beyond your understanding or ability to combat. I also appreciate the emphasis placed on considering these planes “realities.” Sometimes it feels like the planes are just different countries, pretty similar to home and just a small jump away, but the emphasis on weirdness and vastness helps keep that from happening. Visiting the Astral Plane is stranger and more difficult than visiting, say, the moon, and that’s how it should be. 


Still, ultimately this adventure is a lot like “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” in that while much of it takes place in another plane, it does little to actually interact with the plane. This other plane is an excuse to use a few new dungeon gimmicks, but not a place to explore in and of itself. “Into the Silver Realm” ends with the idea that players should probably head elsewhere for all that extraplanar goodness now that they’re done dealing with the githyanki, but how to actually run this is beyond the scope of this quick adventure. That being said, if your players are able to make it through this beast of a dungeon, they probably do need to start raiding fiendish lairs, because the prime material plane’s going to largely be a walk in the park; once again, it’s a pre-Planescape work that tells us the planes are only for extremely high-powered parties. I wouldn’t want to visit this version of the Astral Plane, and am excited to get a much less terrifying, more bizarre one from Planescape just a few years later. 

1. And am still wavering a bit on iffy stuff like the Chronomancer book that’s sort of TSR and sort of not. I don’t know, that book kind of sucks, and I have little to say about it. Its plane of Time seems pretty uncanonical to me, so… I guess I just answered this question for myself right here, unless someone really wants me to go back and write about it.

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