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Pillar of Skulls

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Pillar of Skulls

The Pillar of Skulls, like Baator, is considerably different in Planescape: Torment than in D&D lore, with the original pillar reaching a mile high. Obviously such a thing would not fit on the screen, nor could there be the attention to detail on every skull that the final rendering shows here.

Previous Area: Baator
Next Area: Return to Baator, then Return to the Outlands, and Curst in Carceri
"Forked-Tongue told me that a pillar made of sages, liars and traitors might have the answers I seek concerning my mortality..." —Nameless One's journal

The Pillar of Skulls, located in Baator, Avernus, is a large column of skulls and writhing putrid flesh. The heads once belonged to those who possessed knowledge, but chose to tell lies. These lies led to the deaths of others or otherwise caused enough harm to earn this punishment.

Because of this, the Pillar is a great information repository. It can answer many important questions the Nameless One has, but its information is not free. In return for answers, the Pillar demands payment in the form of sacrifice.

Conversation preparationEdit

Because of the nature of the conversation, there are a few things to keep in mind before approaching the skulls or even traveling to Baator:

  • Before leaving Fhjull Forked-Tongue's house in the Outlands, be sure to ask him how to leave Baator when finished speaking to the Pillar. He is compelled to help for free; the Pillar is not. (16+ wisdom or 18+ intelligence required to ask him.)
  • Things mentioned during the conversation can affect companions – notably, Annah, Fall-from-Grace, Morte, and Vhailor. They can be left to wait away from the Pillar so it will not recognize them as being present, though this is not necessary.
  • If Morte is brought along he will not want to be seen by the Pillar. When pressed on the issue, he explains that he was once one of the skulls on it. He has helped the Nameless One because a previous incarnation freed him in return for information – information he would unknowingly lose once removed from the Pillar. Keeping Morte around anyway incurs a very slight morale loss. ("Forget it, Morte. I'm going to speak to it now...") Another possible dialogue choice in the conversation also negatively influences his morale: "No more dodging, Morte. Tell what's going on *now...*"
  • If TNO's charisma is 17 or lower, the Friends spell can be cast on him so lying about Fhjull's whereabouts is feasible.

At any point while speaking to the Pillar, the conversation can be ended to send party members away before initiating dialogue again.

Questions and answersEdit

There are five questions the Pillar can be asked, though only one is strictly mandatory:

  • "Who are you?" There is no cost for asking this if any companions are present; they will freely answer the question for the Nameless One. If none are present, however, the Pillar will answer it (and it will demand payment).
  • "How do I reach the Fortress of Regrets?" This is the only question that must be asked. The Pillar explains that the Fortress can be reached through a portal, and that the portal's key is regret: TNO must focus on regret he has felt and write the word upon a scrap of his skin. Unfortunately, the Pillar does not know the portal's location. Only three have known it: TNO himself, before he forgot; the one who waits within the Fortress and will not come out; and Trias, someone the Nameless One has already met. Interestingly, Trias made no indication of knowing such things. The skulls explain that Trias is a liar, and call him "Trias the Betrayer."
  • "Who am I?" The Pillar explains that TNO is a man who has lost his mortality. Each time he dies, his life is preserved because someone else dies in his place, casting a shadow within the Fortress of Regrets.
Note: if Vhailor is present during this he will realize that TNO is the quarry he had been hunting and will attack him.
  • "Who is my killer?" Unfortunately, the heads that knew the answer have been destroyed. The Pillar does not demand payment for this question.
  • "How might I leave this place?" This question is necessary if TNO did not ask Fhjull while still in the Outlands. The question cannot be asked if TNO already knows the answer.

Payment Edit

"Who's gonna stand – er, float – beside you when you face down whatever's waiting for you at that Fortress of Whatever?! Huh?! Huh?! NOT FHJULL FAT-ARSE, THAT'S FOR DAMNED SURE!" —Morte

The Pillar answers questions quid pro quo. There are six things it desires in return for answers; they are listed in the order the Pillar asks for them:

  • The Pillar demands Morte be returned to it. This occurs three possible ways: at the beginning of the conversation if he is near, while asking questions, and/or at the end of the conversation if he has not been returned yet. If TNO forces Morte back into the Pillar, he can be pulled out later (permanent -5 max HP). (Verify if this is possible more than once.) To do this, TNO must have double specialization (reached both level 7 and 12 in one class before any others, regardless of class). Otherwise Morte cannot be retrieved and TNO may be injured/killed trying to free him. If all demands involving Morte are refused, the Pillar will call demons to attack the party when they return to Baator (four Black Abishai summoned by a Cornugon – this instance is separate from the one involving Fhjull). This doesn't occur if Morte is not seen by the Pillar or if he's given to it (even if he is pulled out after).
  • Fhjull Forked-Tongue's location. TNO can tell the truth, refuse, or lie (18+ charisma necessary to be believed, otherwise the Pillar will know). If his location is revealed, he will be attacked later by Red Abishai and Lemures. If Fhjull survives the attack, regardless of anything else, he will be hostile to the Nameless One and companions.
  • The Modron Cube. Once given, there is no way to retrieve it. You will no longer have access to fast teleportation around Sigil, nor a lucrative source of experience and items from the Modron Maze. It can also no longer be given to Coaxmetal.
  • The blood of a Tanar'ri. If either Fall-from-Grace or Annah is present, the Pillar demands they be turned over so that it may consume them. These count as separate payments and are requested independently. By default, they will mention Grace first if both are present. Both Grace and Annah give TNO the opportunity to back out of the decision by asking if he's serious. In both cases answering yes leads to the party member leaving: in Grace's case she simply vanishes; in Annah's case she attacks him. In both cases this happens after a "[Truth]" dialogue option is chosen (neither dialogue choice influences lawful alignment, for whatever reason).
Note: this loss of a party member possibly counts as payment to the Pillar.[1] Please verify with in-game testing.
  • A "taste" of the Nameless One's blood. This involves stepping into the Pillar and allowing it to envelope the Nameless One for a short time (results in permanent -15 max HP). This can be done more than once.

Notable skullsEdit

Pillar of Skulls low angle

Image of the Pillar of Skulls rendered from the same model and textures used in the game image above, but in first-person perspective with different lighting.

  • Pharod: if Annah is present Pharod's head will surface long enough to cry out to her before being swallowed up again. The Nameless One can comfort her, but there is no morale loss for not doing so.
  • Morte, in the past.

AlignmentEdit

  • Chaotic, Evil: revealing Fhjull's actual location to the Pillar.
  • Chaotic: lying to the Pillar when "revealing" Fhjull's location (regardless of whether the lie is believed).
  • Evil: telling Grace or Annah that you will shove them into the Pillar ([Truth] option, but does not influence lawful alignment).
  • Evil: forcing Morte back into the Pillar.
  • Good: telling Annah you wish you could help Pharod. ([Truth] option, but does not influence lawful alignment.)
  • Evil: telling Annah you're glad to see Pharod stuck in the Pillar. ([Truth] option, but does not influence lawful alignment.)

Further reading Edit

  1. Planescape: Torment by Shadow Catboy: Text of the Pillar of Skulls dialogue, all the Evil choices http://lparchive.org/Planescape-Torment/Update%20139/


The Hive
Mortuary Area (Mortuary | Gathering Dust Bar | Mausoleum) • Northwestern AreaMarketplace AreaSmoldering Corpse Area (Smoldering Corpse Bar | Fell's Tattoo Parlor) • Alley of Dangerous AnglesRagpicker's Square
Under the Hive
Trash WarrensBuried Village (Pharod's Court) • Weeping Stone CatacombsDead NationsWarrens of ThoughtDrowned NationsTomb of the Nameless One
Other Wards
Tenement of ThugsAlley of Lingering SighsLower Ward (Great Foundry | Bones of the Night) • Clerk's Ward (Brothel for Slaking Intellectual Lusts | Civic Festhall) • Undersigil
Mazes
Player's MazeModron MazeBlack-Barbed Maze
Outlands and Hells
Outer Curst (Traitor's Gate Tavern) • Inner CurstCurst UndergroundCurst PrisonOutlandsBaator (Pillar of Skulls) • Curst GoneCurst in CarceriCurst Administration
Fortress of Regrets
Fortress EntranceFortress Main HallTrial of ImpulseMaze of ReflectionsFortress Roof

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