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Planescape: How do you tell a petitioner from a planar?

In reading through Planescape material, you kind of get this impression that you can recognize who is an isn't a petitioner, even though I can't find any explanation (whether an explanation saying, "you just can", or an explanation saying "here's how", or even a solid statement of "you don't really know unless you guess right".)

I'm talking about petitioners that look like most other folks--Outlands petitioners for instance. Reading Sigil and Beyond of the original campaign setting, they talk about the various gate-towns and other town, where apparently you have petitioners and planars living side by side...and the book talks like you can just spot who is who at a glance, without ever coming out and saying it.

Any thoughts? Is there something in another sourcebook that clarifies this?
 
Not that I know of, but I haven't read all the PS supplements. I suspect that the authors would tell you that some normal-looking petitioners may have telltale quirks -- like Outlands petitioners who walk around with balance tally-books -- that will clue savvy planewalkers in to their nature, but that there is no simple way to identify normal-looking petitioners.

Not the way that I would have it, but that's my best guess at an 'official' answer.
 
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Yeah, that's what I'm expecting, but hoping it won't be.

I mean, it's kind of a stretch to say that Outlands petitioners wear peasant clothes while planars all dress in steampunk or something, but that's the level of distinction that seems to be functioning through some mechanism.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
Psychopath response : [You kill it. If it's soul goes somewhere, it was a planar. If it merges with the plane (or fades to nothing), it was a petitioner.]

A better response : RAW, much as you say. RAI, that's something for the table/DM to decide upon - it could be obvious, it could require a spell (~analyze portal), it could require a bit of study, etc.
 
I mean, it's kind of a stretch to say that Outlands petitioners wear peasant clothes while planars all dress in steampunk or something, but that's the level of distinction that seems to be functioning through some mechanism.
Well you could always go the 'Petitioners have a particular light in their eyes' route, with a nod and a wink to your players. ;)
 
I always played "recognizing petitioners" as depending on the plane. In places like Bytopia or the Outlands where petitioners can look exactly the same as equivalent prime/planar races, I played the difference coming across in their personalities. Talk to a body for a bit and it almost always becomes glaringly obvious that they're a petitioner because of how they obsessively talk about their faith/philosophy/moral views, the grandeur and greatness of their home plane/pantheon/deity, and often by subtle cues that petitioners from that plane have in common. For example, Outlander petitioners often have little ledgers books where they keep a tally of their deeds, matching lawful acts with chaotic ones, balancing evil acts with good ones, making sure they never stray too far in any one extreme. See an Outlander scribbling in a little notebook after a trade, casting furtive glances to make sure no one's looking over his shoulder, and there's a good chance you've found a petitioner.
 

Relic Dice

Villager
[MENTION=20323]Quickleaf[/MENTION] [MENTION=6677017]Sword of Spirit[/MENTION]

I don't believe there is a RAW example, but Quickleaf has the base of it. That's usually what I do. A Planars personality, if not their clothing and audible quirks (berk, jink, ring rather then circle, etc), are often enough to tell the difference. However, an experienced planer might have adopted similarities of petitioners.
 

TBeholder

Villager
In reading through Planescape material, you kind of get this impression that you can recognize who is an isn't a petitioner, even though I can't find any explanation (whether an explanation saying, "you just can", or an explanation saying "here's how", or even a solid statement of "you don't really know unless you guess right".)

I'm talking about petitioners that look like most other folks [...]
Any thoughts? Is there something in another sourcebook that clarifies this?
Nothing specific, but they are "commoners" of the planes, so... I gather it's much like telling locals from tourists in a town and probably requires knowledge of the domain/plane in question or observation.

I always played "recognizing petitioners" as depending on the plane. In places like Bytopia or the Outlands where petitioners can look exactly the same as equivalent prime/planar races, I played the difference coming across in their personalities. Talk to a body for a bit and it almost always becomes glaringly obvious that they're a petitioner because of how they obsessively talk about their faith/philosophy/moral views, the grandeur and greatness of their home plane/pantheon/deity, and often by subtle cues that petitioners from that plane have in common.
Or talk to them, indeed. If a creature is concerned about refining themselves in the way that aligns with the plane and being tested, it's probably a petitioner... or maybe a Godsman.
If a creature is well-travelled outside its current plane, it's a planar... probably. If you ask a creature whether it's a petitioner and it punches you - it's a planar... probably. ;)
These aren't going to be absolutely reliable, and there are always tricky cases, from visitors actively trying to blend in to petitioners promoted to proxies.

Psychopath response : [You kill it. If it's soul goes somewhere, it was a planar. If it merges with the plane (or fades to nothing), it was a petitioner.]
This requires some way to observe the result of an experiment. so magic is necessary either way. Rary's Plane Truth checks this non-destructively. It's 7th-level, however.
 
I think I found the official answer in On Hallowed Ground:

"The most important thing to remember about a petitioner is this: The basher's always, always looking for a way to join his plane or power. It doesn't matter what else he's doing; that goal always lurks in the corner of his brain-box, and he bends all his efforts toward achieving it. A body who deals with a petitioner'd better keep that in mind when judging the berk's motivations.
What's more, that single-mindedness is pretty much the only way to tell a petitioner from a regular living sod. After all, most petitioners look and act the same as everyone else (not counting those who become chaos-blobs on Limbo or archons on the Mount). But engage one in a few minutes of conversation, and every word out of his mouth'll tie back to the perfection of his plane or power. It's just plain boring to listen to a petitioner go on and on. It's also mighty annoying to see distracted looks play across his face, as if he's got much more important things to do than stand around and chat all day — which, of course, he does."
 

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