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Manual of the Planes--

Whines picked me up a copy of the new 4.0 Manual of the Planes. It was great! Not quite as complicated as the original MOP from 1st ed, but a more rewarding read than the 3.5 edition, which was all number-crunchy but without a lot of location color. Not quite as hawt as Planescape, but what could be?

A few nice surprises--a four-page writeup of Sigil, the home city of Planescape. That was neat, it's only gotten a paragraph or two in recent supplements. A major fact error (that in the previous edition, no-one knew where Sigil was located, which wasn't true--it was demonstrably at the center of the universe).

Secondly, in the list of vehicles that one can use to traipse around the planes, is a class of vehicle called "Spelljammers" :) Neat!

A third interesting bit is that the Shadowfell strongly mimics early Ravenloft, with discrete realms that dark powers have complete control over, but are imprisoned within. Interesting. Particularly since Setting Book Ravenloft is pretty early in the release schedule, though presumably after Eberron and DRagonlance.

A lot of old gods from previous editions get mentioned, and the abyss looks like a fun, fun place to adventure in. I do hope for a follow-up with more details.

One thing I miss is the orderly layout of the elemental planes, which really hasn't existed for a good long time (the original Monster Manual had an obsessive-compulsively complex planar layout, which I lurved). 4.0 gets pretty far away from the "Wheel" structure. Having, say, the Elemental Plane of Water, the Quasi-elemental plane of Minerals, etc, as discrete adventuring environments was kind of neat, but the new arrangement has its own charms.

Interesting note--the paradises and hells have shrunk dramatically. The Nine Mountains of Paradise or whatever are a mid-sized state, about 700 miles long and a few hundred miles across. Pandemonium is only a good 30 miles wide. Weird decision. Even the Nine Hells are finite, though they're an earth-sized planet, so not such a big deal...there are almost no truly infinite realms. The Abyss is finite, but v-e-r-y large. Presumably, the Shadowfell and Feywild are only about as large as the earth is. The only really infinite spaces are the Prime Material Plane, the Elemental Chaos, and the Astral...everything

So, generally, one of the best books about the planes that D&D has ever released, very colorful. Maaybe a little light on crunchy mechanics, but not intolerably so.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 27th, 2008 07:27 am (UTC)
Newbie question: what's the difference between the MOP and Planescape?
Dec. 27th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
the three MOPs are one-volume supplemental books to add planar elements to your campaign, even expanding into a plane-hopping game. Planescape was an open series creating a game world devoted to planehopping. It had beautiful art by Tony Deterlizzi and a fun, streetwise thieves' cant attitude, and had a LOT more detail--like, entire boxed sets devoted to three planes detail--on the game's nearly infinite locations.
Jul. 23rd, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
Chiming in to reply to a really old post, but... just because Sigil is at the center of the universe doesn't mean anyone knows where it actually *is*. Which direction is the center of 'everything' from here? Which direction is the edge, for that matter? :-)
Jul. 23rd, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure that works with the old Wheel of the Universe setup, which was a finite circle that could be marched around (see MArch of the Modrons). The circle was centered on the plane of Concordant Opposition, which has a defined (and unapproachable) center, like a giant mountain, and Sigil floated around the top of it! So...it's actually pretty concretely locatable...
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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