Please Explaine



Oct 05, 2006 2:30:03
Can someone give me a pretty basic rundown on Planescape. I've never runplayed anything with it, and the only ideas I have is that it is a game based on the multiverse and travelling from plane to plane somewhat commonly. Is that true?

I hate Eberron because I am not into walking/talking robots with souls, flying trains, and hovering pirate ships. F.R. is way way to one dimensional for me. I am gathering as much on Darksun as I can, and really like most of the material, though never a big fan of Psionics. I love Ravenloft, Dragonlance, and the more generic Greyhawk. With that in mind, do you think that Planescape would be of interest to me?


Oct 05, 2006 2:55:32
Planescape can be of interest for anyone regardless of the setting you are used to, because, for its very nature, it can virtually include every element in terms of classes, environments, etc., plus an unbelievable variety of other “alien” conditions, creatures, landscapes, etc.
But I think that what makers Planescape really invaluable is the fact that in this setting belief is really power. IMHO, in standard settings like FR and Greyhawk, and even in a non-standard setting like Dark Sun, Strenght is power, while in Ravenloft knowledge is power. Well, in Planescape is the force of belief that can shape the Multiverse…


Oct 06, 2006 1:50:51
I don't really get what you mean. Are you talking about Clerics being much more powerful and/or influential? Or are you saying that the theme is more "we can do it!".

As to the other Setting, I like or hate theso because of the general themes and styles of played espouced by those setting, liike in Ravenloft, being the minority and being underpowered and unprepaired for what you face, but no one else can.


Oct 06, 2006 3:31:57
I’ve been rather obscure…sorry.
The OuterPlanes are organized with regard to the beliefs of inhabitants...for example the Plane Mechanus is the physical embodiment of the Lawful Neutral alignment, being composed of intersecting gears that revolve at perfect pace, and so on….
What I mean to say is that belief can physically shape the multiverse… there are parts of various Planes (cities, realms, even whole infinite Layers) that, thanks to the change in belief of the residents have skipped to other Planes..
And no, Clerics (and in general, all characters) aren’t the contrary, in the Planes there are creatures of such might that even the most powerful adventure can’t hope to beat. Monster bashing isn’t (or rather shouldn’t be) the point of a Planescape Campaign..trying to reshape the Multiverse (even a tiny part) according to one philosophy ( or lack of philosophy) is the point.


Oct 06, 2006 3:33:14
I don't really get what you mean. Are you talking about Clerics being much more powerful and/or influential? Or are you saying that the theme is more "we can do it!".

Neither, I'd say. The main theme of Planescape is indeed belief, but it does not need to be religious belief. The Athar (one of the factions or powerful philosophical groups of Planescape) are atheists, yet their belief is as powerful as those of other groups.
Also, Planescape is not about killing powers or the like.

IMO, the main themes of Planescape are:
1) Belief, and contrasting beliefs: in the Outer Planes, belief can shape reality -- towns slide from one plane to another as the dominant alignments of the inhabitants change, people with strong beliefs (important faction members, servants of the powers) can manifest odd powers, and the spirits of the dead adhere to alignments much more strictly than the living -- and they make a real example to the living. On the other hand, few people bother about other people's beliefs -- you can't fight the Abyss after all.
2) Sense of wonder: the Outer Planes are infinite -- distances are huge, cities are cosmopolitan beyond the imagination of the people of standard worlds (fiends, celestials, slaadi, humans, giths, and any other race can be found in Sigil, the City of Doors) mountains can be so tall that entire cities can be built on their slopes, realms of the powers dot the planes, and in general there's always something new to see -- you can't literally make the same journey twice.


Oct 06, 2006 6:47:09
I think that if you don't like "robots with souls" and the crazy stuff of Eberron, you might not be too thrilled with Planescape. It's a bit eccentric to say the least but very cool.
You oculd also always try using D20 campaigns out there like Ptolus, Conan, Gazeteer etc. jsut go to place like ENworld, and you can find a lot things.


Oct 06, 2006 11:50:04
I don't like Eberron because I dislike the idea of trying to blend fantasy and Sci-FI. In my opinion, only one series has ever done this to my liking, (Star Wars), though I'd say they are more fantasy than Sci-Fi, (at least the originals. . .)


Oct 06, 2006 15:04:11
Here are a few things I've written with regards to being an introductory message for Planescape:

Have you ever thought there could be worlds outside your own? Worlds full of danger, intrigue, and adventure? Think about a place accessible from anywhere - a door, a window, a place where two trees come together, all you need is the right key and the courage to step through. Those with the bravery and wit to make it beyond their own world find not just another world, they find another reality altogether. A number of realities, all infinite in size yet right next to each other. Worlds of angels and demons, worlds where law and chaos take on physical form and wage war with each other. Ysgard, a land of Norse legends, where the victorious dead fight for all eternity. Limbo, a place of pure chaos, where slaadi and githzerai wade through the primal soup. Pandemonium, hellish tunnels with a wind so noisy it'll drive a cutter mad. The Abyss, quite literally the worst place you will ever see. Carceri, the great prison, where traitors vie uselessly with each other for a way out. The Grey Waste, a place where the evil is so oppressive it even leaches out colour. Baator, home of devils, every step laden with a hundred snares for your very soul. Acheron, a place of eternal battle, where war is waged endlessly for no true gain. Mechanus, the clockwork heaven, where law is supreme and the machine is law. Arcadia, perfection incarnate at the price of freedom. Celestia, quite literally heaven in the form of a mountain. Bytopia, two infinities sandwiched together, where honest work is valued above all. Elysium, a land of perfect peace and harmony. The Beastlands, where nature is all that rules. Arborea, land of passion and stories, where everything is bigger, brighter, and more intense. The Outlands, in the middle of them all, providing balance to the Great Wheel.

Above it all, looking out over the infinite planes, is Sigil, the City of Doors, the tarnished jewel of the multiverse. It's the biggest, most densely packed, dirty city you'll see. But it offers everything you'll ever need. It's said that if it can't be found in Sigil's Great Bazaar, it doesn't exist. In the Night Market, you can buy anything, even some things not to be found in the Bazaar. And the Cage ain't called the City of Doors for nothing. It's got portals to everywhere you've been, everywhere anyone you've ever seen has been, anywhere any of you have even heard of, and more places besides. Also of prime importance in Sigil are the factions, fifteen philosophical groups who offer a sod some direction in his life. After all, out here belief is power, so you'd better have some good beliefs. You could try the Xaositects, who believe that chaos is the ultimate force in the universe. They spend a lot of time spreading chaos wherever they go, a fun group. You could join the Transcendent Order, who believe they can hear the pulse of the multiverse and seek harmony with it. Or perhaps the Sons of Mercy are more to your liking: they believe in justice, tempered by a good nature. Do good, but be understanding. If that's too soft, you might find the Sodkillers more suitable. They also feel justice is paramount, but it's might that makes right. Enforce justice by strength of sword or spell. If you're more into a relaxed lifestyle, perhaps you would be interested in the Society of Sensation. They feel that truth is only to be found through the senses, so a cutter had better get out and sense all he can. A newer group in town, the Ring-Givers, are big on altruism. They feel that by helping others, help will come to them in turn. The Mind's Eye feels that the purpose of life is to challenge you, and the purpose of you is to overcome those challenges. The Harmonium are big on peace. However, they have a quite singular view of peace, and understand that only if everyone agrees on the same kind of peace can peace truly be had. The Fraternity of Order places importance on law. And not just the law of man, but the law of the multiverse, as well. However, there's an important thing to know about laws. Some can be bent; others, broken. The Fated will tell you that the good life belongs to the strong, it is a privelege available only to those with the ambition and ability to reach out and take it - pike everyone else. The Dustmen are a bit more sombre than most of the other factions. They think we're all dead, you see, and to move on we need to release ourselves from emotion and attachment. The Doomguard will tell you that entropy is the supreme force in the multiverse. A lot of them are into helping it progress, but many are content to just watch, and make sure entropy is going along at the natural rate. The Athar play a dangerous game - they are down on the Powers themselves, claiming them to be false and misleading. They're rather proselytising about it, too - the Powers won't crumble without the concerted disbelief of most of the inhabitants of the multiverse, you know. Or maybe this is all a bit much to take in. Maybe you've seen some of the more horrible parts of the multiverse and you're convinced there can't be a greater meaning to it all. There's a faction for you, too. They're the Bleak Cabal, and they recognise that nothing in the multiverse has any true meaning - meaning can only be found within yourself. Or you could be having issues with all these people having power, issuing control. Join the Revolutionary League, then, and try to pull all the power structures down. True freedom can only be found in anarchy. Although, not everyone joins a faction. Some cutters just really value their own personal freedoms. Those people can find friends in the Free League, a group of canny bashers who look out for each other, because nobody else will.

With something for everyone, it's hard to believe so many people stay confined on the Prime. Tired of endless and pointless dungeon crawls? Are you upset with the fact that unless you're a mage, your will has no effect on the world around you? Are you looking for something more to life than experience points and treasure? Come, join us on the Planes. Join us in the City of Doors. Join us in whatever faction suits your beliefs.

Planescape: A different way of gaming. A different way of life.


The multiverse is a big place. It’s a set of nested infinities, really. One big infinity divided into smaller sub-infinities, some of which are further subdivided. This brings me to the point of theme. In such a huge space, it means less to speak of what fills the space (although we will), and is more relevant to discuss the themes of that space. As we divide our infinities into ever more specific regions, we’ll have more specific themes for them, but there are a few themes that tend to cover the whole multiverse. This is the only time I’ll actually specifically call out and define themes, other themes will simply be implied by how a section is crafted.

Rule of Three: This has a few interpretations. First, things happen in threes. Not everything, of course, but significant things. More relevantly, there are always three sides: two opposites and the median. It is this second aspect of the rule of threes that will come up more often, but don’t forget about the first meaning, either.
Centre of All: The multiverse is spatially infinite. So, really, there can’t be a single multiversal centre. No one place or event is more important than any others. On the other hand, in an infinite space anywhere is the centre. So, wherever you are is the centre of the multiverse. This ties in with Arrogance, below.
Unity of Rings: The multiverse is also temporally infinite, although not in the sense of stretching on forever in all directions. There will always be a multiverse and there has always been a multiverse. Things tend to work in circles, and often you’ll finish a journey just to find yourself back where it began. There is also a sense of interconnectedness, even between opposites. Good and evil mirror and feed each other.
Power of Belief: On the Outer Planes, belief is power. What a character believes shapes how she interacts with the world and what enough characters believe can reshape the planes. Usually, though, this is dealt with on a small scale: a character’s beliefs give her strength.
Biggest Fish: There isn’t one. There will always be someone stronger than you. A canny planewalker survives by knowing when to fight, when to talk, and when to just run away.
Arrogance: Planars are an arrogant lot. They’re often better than you, and they’re definitely better than primes. Despite Biggest Fish, above, strength isn’t always the way to win a battle. Planewalkers often defeat a much stronger opponent through wits, bravado, and sheer luck. Planars often get too bold for their own good and get themselves scribbled into the dead-book. Unity of rings, and all.

Having said all that, we can get down to the core of the matter: cosmology. In a normal D&D game, cosmology is likely only of marginal importance: it’s somewhere for gods to live, somewhere for fiends to come from, and a structure for characters to believe in. In a Planescape game, cosmology is the setting. The demesne of gods and demons, angels and devils, lands of belief and legend, these are where we play. The planes are divided into a number of small groupings: Inner, Outer, Prime, and Transitive. There are a few other planes that don’t entirely fit this mould, but seem to exist anyway. Those will be touched on later, but for now we can refer to them as pseudo-planes. The inner planes are the building blocks of the multiverse, providing raw physical substance to build the rest of the planes out of. The Ethereal plane is one of the transitives, existing as a conduit of unformed possibility that connects the inner planes to the prime. The prime material plane (sometimes called the prime or the material) is the plane filled with ‘normal’ worlds, the type of campaign settings a typical D&D game uses. The Astral plane is the second transitive, existing as a conduit of mortal belief and spirits that connects the prime to the outer planes. The outer planes are the planes of belief, composed entirely out of mortal ideals and beliefs. According to the rule of three, centre of all, and unity of rings, we expect there to be a third transitive plane, which we’ve named the Ordial, which connects the outer planes to the inner planes. However, no reliable sources have been able to find the Ordial, and we’re not sure what its properties are. Its existence would imply, however, that it somehow transports belief from the outer planes to the inner planes. We will speculate no further on the Ordial here, though.


Oct 06, 2006 15:43:19
Bob got it quite right, if you've got the time to read through that post.


Oct 06, 2006 20:47:22, that's all I need to say.


Oct 08, 2006 12:17:31
Nice intro text Bob. Very nice.