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xaeyruudh Posted - 15 Feb 2012 : 08:07:10
Long ago and far away, I read a few things (in Dragon magazine I'm pretty sure, and maaaaybe the 1e DMG) about tuning forks used as keys to portals between planes.

Anyone remember any specific references, for lists of forks, which materials were linked to which planes, etc?

Many thanks!
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Ayrik Posted - 14 Sep 2020 : 06:07:20
Plane shift as a "natural" ability is not the same as plane shift as a spell. Even though the game effect is basically the same.

Planeshifting creatures could simply require a simple thought or an act of will, construct a dream or a meditation, extend their senses beyond "local" reality, or even just draw upon unthinking instinct.

Planeshifting spellcasters don't have that intrinsic ability. They have to use casting rituals and components, they have to manipulate nature into supernature by channeling power, they have to learn a method much like a blind person would have to learn how to sense a rainbow.

Planeshift is a 5th level magic, you don't have to be an archmage to cast it but you do have to have the intellect and knowledge and power and experience to manipulate a magic as complex as any other fifth level spell. Planar mechanics are supposedly complex stuff.

Maybe (demi)human perceptions just aren't equipped to move beyond the Prime without the assistance of props and fetishes (like tuning forks). Maybe a creature like a dragon or a gith or a lowly phase spider has some sort of spell construct hardwired into their neurons, some kind of trace planar matter flowing through their blood, some kind of "resonant" pattern flowing through their soul every moment.
sleyvas Posted - 13 Sep 2020 : 23:31:46
Hadn't really looked at this for 5e, but bearing this material component requirement and how its kind of "special".... as in you have to have a material component "keyed" to the plane..... what about monsters using spell like abilities in 5e that have plane shift? I know spell like abilities don't require a material component, but might this limit monsters who CAN planeshift from plane shifting anywhere willy nilly? Maybe they can only plane shift to certain planes that they're keyed to (unless they happen to get the material component for some other plane)? Personally haven't looked at what demons/devils/angels, etc.. have plane shift in 5e, so it may be a moot point.
Delnyn Posted - 13 Sep 2020 : 21:05:15
Keys generally are keyed to a pre-determined specific spot in the destination plane, not necessarily one of the PC's choice or convenience. Or the key leads to a random spot in the destination plane, which risks as potentially fatal as a botched teleport.
Ayrik Posted - 31 Jan 2020 : 20:09:47
Sometimes these "tuning forks" (and other portal keys) which unlock access to certai planar layers can only be found on adjacent planar layers.
Sometimes these keys are fiercely guarded by powerful locals (who wish to control their planar borders and territories, or who are tasked by the deeper powers they serve), sometimes benign, sometimes malign, sometimes merely hostile.
Sometimes these keys are actual places or they're made of exotic/ephemeral planestuff - they simply can't be taken off or can't exist away from their native Outer Plane.

This prevents planeswalkers from delving too far beyond what they can handle. And forces them to use multiple spellcastings for "long" journeys. And, in practice, it forces deep expeditions to involve plans and provisions stretched across difficult and perilous adventure.

Otherwise any fool could easily stumble directly from a saloon in Waterdeep into Asmodeus's living room at the bottom of the Nine Hells.
And any fiend could easily stumble directly from the foulest murk at the bottom of the Infinite Abyss into your living room.
Arivia Posted - 30 Jan 2020 : 22:27:36
Ooo, I'll have to look at that for my projects about the planes. Thanks Wooly!
Wooly Rupert Posted - 30 Jan 2020 : 18:34:16
I'll confirm the article was in Dragon 120, "Plane Speaking" by Jeff Grubb.
Dalor Darden Posted - 30 Jan 2020 : 17:03:02
Thanks for making your first post Eldur! And thanks for the update! :)
Eldur Galanodel Posted - 30 Jan 2020 : 16:37:04
Here from the future with an update on this topic. For anyone, like myself, who may have stumbled here from the Land of Google, I can confirm that Plane Shift, in the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons, still requires "a forked, metal rod worth at least 250 gp, attuned to a particular plane of existence" (PHB p.266).

Details regarding the crafting or acquisition of said "forked, metal rod [tuning fork]" are still unanswered.
xaeyruudh Posted - 21 Jun 2012 : 10:36:40
Update, for anyone else who might get curious one day, struggle with Google, and then discover this page.

The plane shift spell still (in 3.5e) requires a tuning fork keyed to the appropriate plane, as a focus. The forks were described and outlined in earlier editions, maybe also in the Manual of the Planes and later adventures as Ayrik said, but in the 3.5 PH it's just left completely up to the DM.

The outline of substances and notes (kinda like command words to activate the fork) provided in earlier editions can be found in the Encyclopedia Magica, volume 2, under Fork, and presumably Dragon #120 but I can't find my archive to confirm that. Naturally, individual DMs are free to improvise; I just remembered the guideline being out there, and was wondering where it was. So... found.

Note that the Encyclopedia Magica is the 4 volume set of Volo's-Guide-size books... not to be confused with the 2 volume Magic Encyclopedia which came out earlier and was much thinner.
xaeyruudh Posted - 15 Feb 2012 : 19:19:19
Thanks for the sources!
Ayrik Posted - 15 Feb 2012 : 09:07:09
The tuning forks were components needed in AD&D and 2E to cast plane shift, each made from a different metal/crystal and producing a unique tone which "resonated" with a specific plane. They are described in the Manual of the Planes, and details for a few more are scattered throughout various adventures.

Their main purpose was to place some limit on the reach of PCs who had access to plane shift. The DM could require the PCs spend some time/money doing research or questing for exotic materials. Suddenly having access to the entire cosmos might be expected in a Planescape setting, but it otherwise takes too much focus away from the main campaign world.

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