December 19, 2008
Word of Wizards - D&D Alumni: Manual of the Planes
D&D Alumni: Manual of the Planes
This articles retraces back to the development of planes and the design concepts behind them for the last 30 years. Planes in D&D has existed almost as long as the game itself since the release of the 1st edition Manual of the Planes.
The concept of the planes in the world of D&D had gone through an evolution that started from the seed of endless creativity to adventure and practicality. The planes wanted to tie everything together and from there it spawned everything else. It would contain holes in the fabric of reality that were imaginative but unplayable. As time went on, these holes were addressed and filled in with other possibilities.
In each edition, you could see the developers were struggling with what the planes should be as. For a setting, it was just as easy to create a plane as it is for its logic to escape in the grand scheme of things. For a game, the planes had to have something more than just lore and description.
Not only were concepts and design ideas of the planes were added and removed over time (such as Ethereal and Astral Projection) but also the exotic monsters that were spawned and lived in the planes. It was interesting to see how the Marut came about and how it was changed over the editions, from its role to its origins. The infamous Astral Dreadnought was originally called the Ethereal Dreadnought.
It was interesting to see the older cosmologies and the explanation of why it didn't work for the newest 4th edition. In the end there is a disclaimer at the end of this article, the topic of the planes is just too vast to be discussed in just this one article.
Personally, I'm not really a planar-adventure type of person. I haven't delve headlong into it with my players with a full blown adventure set in a plane yet but I hope that is about to change. Now we shall see if the new paradigm of designing the planes would fit better into the mentality of gamers of the new game.