Posted by : David Guyll January 23, 2009

I was really into Planescape back in 2nd Edition, and owned the 3rd Edition Manual of the Planes. I knew a lot about the planes and their layout, but basically if I wasnt running Planescape then I never bothered to use them. Technically, I didnt use them a whole lot in Planescape campaigns either, preferring to stick mostly with urban campaigns set squarely in Sigil. If the players went to another plane, they were relegated to "other worlds that were mostly like the prime material plane", especially at low-levels when going to another plane meant instantaneous death.

I greatly prefer the new planar cosmology, both in terms of layout and accessibility. It is not possible to create adventures on other planes easily without a shitload of planning. Players can venture into even a hostile place like the Elemental Chaos without excessive amounts of situational protection (read: spells that translate into "let you go into X plane without dying"). They can go there, explore, and not worry about micromanaging tiny things that let them do those things.

The new layout entices me, mostly because it seems much less symetrical and more...natural, I suppose is the word. Before, everything seemed laid out in a very formulaic manner. Very predictable. The new layout seems more fantastic and, well, mythical. Anyway, I know a lot of people are pissed that Wizards changed the "official" cosmology, constantly ignoring the fact that they can just make up whatever they want (assuming anyone still used the classic Great Wheel format). I really could care less if someone hates it for that "reason".

I've already created several adventures with the Shadowfell in mind, and am kicking around an adventure path in which the Feywild is pretty central. These are things that I really wouldnt have done in prior editions, as the Negative Energy Plane is extremely lethal, and the rules for plane-hopping made things fairly difficult without houseruling.

Other than that, Manual of the Planes has new monsters, rituals, and paragon paths. I know a few people are pissed that it included stuff for the players, but unlike the prestige classes that were included in the 3rd Edition iteration, these are useful even if you arent in the planes. A good book for DMs and players, but DMs will get far, far more utility out of it.

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