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I have a powerful mage as the BBEG in my next campaign, and part of what makes him powerful is that he can travel around, and move lots of other people, using magic.

While Teleport and Teleport Without Error are good for moving just him, and Gate can be used to move lots of followers with him, I feel he should also have his own sub-dimension(s) or small, created planes where he can have treasure, magic items, a bolt-hole, and some backup. Where can I find rules for creating and maintaining something like this? I don't want to use plot magic, because I hope to also let my players make something like this later on. Ideally, I'd like first-party content but third-party or homebrew is also acceptable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wasn't there a 2nd edition Planescape supplement on the Ethereal Plane that included spells for creating (and destroying) demiplanes? \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Sep 9 '13 at 5:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe Thanks, I'll look for more details on that. \$\endgroup\$ – Dakeyras Sep 9 '13 at 7:46
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There's nothing wrong with “plot magic”, and in fact, as a 2e DM you're severely handicapped by restricting yourself from using plot magic because the system is built with the firm knowledge that DMs know they can use so-called plot magic. (The cultural revulsion against GM fiat and anything that even looks kind of like GM fiat was born during the 3e era, which is why 2e doesn't have the explicit rules about what the DM is and isn't allowed to do that people now expect as part of a D&D edition.)

To make the methods available to your players, simply move the locus of the plot magic until it's not really “plot magic” at all. Instead of plot magicking up the pocket dimension of this adversary, just fiat up the spells and rituals the adversary used to create it, put those into the world, and let them be learnable by the PCs through discovery or research just like any other custom spell or ritual. You already have the game's permission to do this kind of thing.

Balance concerns are understandable, but somewhat misplaced. Official 2e material isn't balanced in the sense that is usually meant in the post-3e community, since strong balance wasn't a design concern of the system – every home table had its own view on whether balance mattered, and something that was balanced in one group would be unbalanced in another, so no official attempt at balance-as-we-know-it was ever bothered with. By making your own custom spells, you're actually more likely to create something that is balanced for your table than if you used homebrewed spells developed by someone else for their own group.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Sanderson's Laws" most clearly explain the revulsion against plot magic. It's not that people hate it inherently, it's that nearly every instance is actually just lazy and bad worldbuilding (when it isn't, it tends to be labelled 'homebrew' instead). Third law here: brandonsanderson.com/sandersons-third-law-of-magic but all three are worth reading. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Apr 14 '17 at 21:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin That's why I say to plot-magic up an internally-consistent thing that's native to AD&D 2e DMing best practices (custom spells) instead of doing it the lazy way. It's not really plot magic then, but to someone steeped in 3.xe's philosophy it still feels like it, so I wrote partly within that paradigm to help them cross the gap to a slightly different paradigm. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 14 '17 at 22:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ yup. And that's a big part of why it's a good answer. But "plot magic" usually means opaque hand-waving. It usually does not mean careful and workmanlike extension of the system or setting. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Apr 14 '17 at 22:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin Ooh, I see what you mean. I made a small adjustment based on that thought — does that edit tweak it to more clearly suggest that difference? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 14 '17 at 22:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, yes! It's neat how such a small change can affect the whole thing. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Apr 14 '17 at 22:15
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There is an 8th level Alteration spell called "Demiplane Seed" in The Planewalker's Handbook detailed on page 124. It allows the wizard to create a small demiplane in the Deep Ethereal to their specifications after going through the process of crafting the seed itself.

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If you can find it, I would recommend Chessboards: The Planes of Possibilities. This is a supplement itself to The Primal Order, a non-system-specific supplement written by Peter Adkison, head of Wizards of the Coast at the time it was published.

TPO was designed as a ruleset GMs could add on top of their existing campaigns/systems, and was useful for creating gods and pantheons, including a lot of the things that would be necessary to run them. It included information on creating the deities, their belief systems, how they gained power, how they granted power to their followers, and so on.

Chessboards expanded TPO to include how to create realms for the gods and their followers. It built upon the TPO ruleset, to help GMs build planes for their gods to inhabit, to rule over, and to punish. I've read the entire book, and it was chock full of interesting tidbits.

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I cannot find anything in 2nd edition, but if you willing to accept other sources you may want to have a look at these:

  • 3.5 has the planeshifter prestige class(manual of the planes) that gains the demiplane seed ability at level 10 (see description here).
  • There is also the genesis spell.
  • Pathfinder has 3 spells for this purpose.
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2nd edition has a few spells and items that cover this. Estate transference, from the tome I believe, wand of elemental pocket, also from the tome. There is also the possibility of altering spells to meet your needs, with your DM and groups input and approval of course.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "I believe" is too vague an answer, do you have a page number for the corresponding book? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jacobs Apr 14 '17 at 17:31

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