Over a year ago, we talked about Genasi options who were under the influence of the para-elemental planes of Smoke, Ice, Dust and ooze. Now, we’re going to go on an expidition to one of the aforementioned planes; the plane of OOZE.
The para-elemental planes have been with us since the Manual of the Planes in 1st Edition. Not much was given to us there, just the base facts. Most of the plane is a sea of muddy ooze which can be traversed at the traveler’s risk. It’s called The Swamp of Oblivion for a reason. Things brought here don’t usually return from their murky depths. However, there are legends that state that items tossed into the Swamp will return to the surface in a century. Not sure if they make the rounds and come back, so if you want it back, you may only have one shot!
But these types of legends brings all sorts of brazen avarice to the Swamp. At times and all according to what item is scheduled to return, an adventuring party could find themselves in quite the pirate chase.
To protect yourself from drowning in the murky mess, one may cast breath water since it works the same way as it does in a sea of water. Yet, you will have a hard time swimming the Swamp of Oblivion. It is in constant flux and, not only, will make movement by a boat difficult, but it will also make it hard to stay on the surface. Most who fall overboard here are never hear from again. Even if you can breath submerged in the mud, you will die with out water or food.
Within the gooey viscosity of the Swamp of Oblivion, there are varying pockets of either water or earth. Within these pockets of water, you may find aquatic creatures either trapped or living secluded from all others’; protected by the swamp. Also populating this ever churning sea of muck are oozes of all types. Navigating the dark murk, the rather blind creatures (Oozes, Puddings, Jellys and the sort) search the surface for new tidbits before their brethren gets to them. It would not be long after hitting the swamp that such creatures will drawn to the surface. Even the drumming of the boat across its muddy waves becomes a massive dinner bell for all sorts of monstrosities.
Since it borders both the Elemental Plane of Water AND Earth, you may also find islands of solid rock floating across the surface of the Ooze. However, the Swamp continues to erode any solid it comes into contact with including the shores of the Elemental Plane of Earth of which it continually erodes as the Earth regenerates just as fast. It’s quite a view.
Besides the sea full of Oozes and the sort, the Swamp of Oblivion have other things you’d expect from any swamp. A menagerie of biting bugs swarm the oblivion. And, if you’ve ever fought a swarm of small insects, you know that no matter how powerful you are, it’s a daunting endeavor at best. And that is almost tolerable, if it weren’t for the stench of this plane. Might want to bring a gas mask as well.
TO REIGN IN HELL (SORT OF)
At one time, the Swamp of Oblivion was ruled by a self-styled Baron named Bwimb. Not much is known about him. And, now that he’s gone, we probably wont know more that this. The problem is there is a power vacuum in the Swamp. This leaves it wide open for a DM to build intrigue and adventure. Possibly, a greater ooze creature has risen from the depths to rule; consuming all who contest him.
Art by The Weirdlands of Xhuul.
If you weren’t already on high alert, you need to worry about a power struggle? And don’t trust what you see. Powerful Oblex, who feed on the memories of those lost, are known to use their victim’s forms to lure in others with past ripe to harvest. Truly, the most intelligent of the Oozes, these monstrosities created by the mad experiments of the Mind Flayers long ago, can be the most likely to rise to power if they care to. But they probably prefer the Prime Material Plane with the sea of memories just waiting for them to feed on.
There are tales of Hags making their lairs here away from prying eyes. Their homes can be found on debris, a gnarled tree or a outshoot of rock anchored deep within the swamp. It won’t stay above the swamp forever, but it will do for now. And, although many hags will do for a power struggle, the one with the most flavor here is the Bog Hag.
A Bog Hag could live among any race and not be outed. They were known to use waterways to ambush their prey. It could use the swamp in much the same way. But, not only were they adept at stealth and ambush, but they were known to inhabit the skin of their victims and, for a time, could masquerade as them. In the 4th Edition adventure, Talon of Umberlee, the captain of the Tidescourge gang of pirates, Evaelda Bloodbath, was one such Bog Hag.
I would expect a Hag to have varying portals to other planes also. You could maybe make a deal to go somewhere else.
Bog hags were also accompanied by a special kind of undead called Lacedon. Going back to the 1st Edition Monster Manual in 1977, they were also known as Sodden Ghouls aka an aquatic ghoul. Basically alike in all ways to the normal ghoul, but they were able swimmers and climbers. They resembled the drowned dead with swollen bodies and grotesque skin; misshapen, bent and broken. But still dangerous.
Picture from the 4th Edition Open Grave source book of the undead.
And, if you would rather the Swamp of Oblivion be a lawless bit of chaos, just have factions fight over it. You could especially have a pirate war for the biggest treasure in the cosmos. Where could be better for finding treasure than a place where people dump the most dangerous, most powerful items?
And what could be a better target than the mythical stronghold of Baron Bwimb? One of the few solid structures in this plane; imagine what wonders it could hold?
VOYAGE OF THE EBONY QUEEN
To transverse the miles of raging muck, you are going to need a ship with a captain and crew capable of navigating its menacing depths. And one such ship is the Ebony Queen.
In 1993’s Secret of the Lamp, Captain Soot sailed the ‘genie realms’ in his ship named EBONY QUEEN. Soot, a robust dark skinned man with a curly white beard is respected as an honorary genie among the various genie lords. The Ebony Queen is made entirely of ebony wood and has, on board, the Orrery of the Inner Planes that makes his travel possible.
But his fee is not cheap. Upwards up to 200 gold or more per passenger and more for freight. Of course, the fee is relative to the campaign, just don’t make it easy for them to book passage.
It goes to reason that someone with a ship such as his could easily sail the Swamp of Oblivion.
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