Out of all of the D&D releases that were announced for 2023, Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse was the one that I was anticipating most of all. Yes, I was also pretty pumped for Spelljammer. But when put side-by-side, my excitement for Planescape beat out Spelljammer by a considerable distance. As an older gamer who spent lots of time with AD&D 2E, I was there when the original Planescape setting first rolled out. I remember buying the Planescape campaign box and all of the supplements that followed in the months to come. Everything about that setting completely enchanted me. The artwork, the lore, even the unique vernacular that was used by the characters described in those pages – all of it was fuel for the fire of my imagination. Needless to say, I was eager to see what a 5E treatment of Planescape was going to look like. Well, the time has come and I’ve spent the last few weeks digging deep into this release. I’m now ready to share my thoughts.
Like the Spelljammer collection, Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse is a collection of three books. They come together in a cardboard sleeve and as an added bonus, there’s also a Planescape-themed DM Screen included. The set includes the following three books:
- Sigil and the Outlands – This is the basic sourcebook designed to introduce the Planescape setting to players and DMs.
- Morte’s Planar Parade – A book of Planescape-themed monsters.
- Turn of Fortune’s Wheel – An adventure module.
Below, I’ll take an in-depth look at each book individually.
Sigil and the Outlands:
This book provides an overview of the Planescape setting for 5E. In the introductory chapter, you’ll find a brief summary on the concept of playing a D&D campaign in the outer planes, followed by an introduction to Sigil – the main city in which most Planescape campaigns are focused. Once this introduction is out of the way, the book dives right in to a number of player options. This includes character backgrounds, feats, and new spells/magical items. For the most part, I found these character options to be well done. But, there’s only two new backgrounds presented. I really feel like there could have been more.
The second chapter makes up the bulk of the book. It focuses on the city of Sigil; its inhabitants, culture, places of interest, unique features, and its colorful factions. All of the information included here is very well done and what’s presented is quite informative. Old-school players will notice a number of differences between the Sigil of old and what’s described in this new book. A lot of these changes are backed up by lore. But some of them seem a bit forced. For example, a big part of Sigil’s culture revolved around the various factions that operate within the city. Originally, Sigil hosted fifteen unique factions. In 5E, this number has been reduced to twelve. Now, there is a lore-specific reason for this change. But, the astute observer will likely be able to detect that the factions that were removed also hosted some of the more “problematic” philosophies (at least in today’s woke culture). Another glaring omission (at least in my eyes), is the fact that Sigil’s unique slang (or cant) is not directly mentioned anywhere in the book. I recognize that from a table-running perspective, this is not particularly important. But at the same time, I’ve always felt that this aspect of the setting really added some color and unique character. Of course, nothing is stopping a DM from adding back in.
The last part of the book details The Outlands. The Outlands is a plane at the center of the multiverse and all of the other outer planes have a connection to it. You can think of The Outlands as a big pie with each slice representing one of the outer planes. In the center of the pie, stands a mountain of unperceivable height. Around the summit of the mountain hovers the ring-shaped city of Sigil. Because many of the adventures in Planescape start in Sigil, it’s natural that they will often extend into The Outlands. With this in mind, it certainly makes sense to include a lot of information about this plane here. However, one thing that’s notably absent from this box are in-depth details for the other outer planes.
Morte’s Planar Parade:
This book serves as a bestiary of planar creatures. The idea here is to give a good sample of creatures from all of the various outer planes. There’s plenty of unique monsters included here (some seen before, but also a handful of new ones as well). This book also includes rules for creating unique planar monsters or applying various planar aspects to regular monsters as well. I was hoping to see a handful of new fiendish monsters in this book. But sadly, there are none included.
Turn of Fortune’s Wheel:
This adventure is designed for players level 3-10 with a surprise bump up to level 17 in the last chapter. Anyone who’s played the Planescape:Torment video game will find quite a bit of the story presented in this adventure to be somewhat familiar. A big plotpoint of this adventure involves players being affected by a “planar glitch”. This means that PCs may find themselves playing multiple versions of their character depending on how the story unfolds. Personally, I think this is a brilliant idea! It’s certainly something that I’ve never heard of before and I can’t wait to see how it actually plays out at the table. My only complaint is that the adventure seems very open ended and I feel like it would take a fairly experienced DM in order to run it properly.
Overall, this boxed set does a decent job of providing enough detail to start a Planescape campaign. However, it also feels like a very high-level overview. I can’t help but wish there was more detail about other aspects of the outer plans as well as a deeper history into the city of Sigil. I suppose that many DMs are going to have to resort to materials found on the DM’s Guild website in order to run extended campaigns in the multiverse. I have to admit to being a bit disappointed by this fact. On one hand, I understand that WotC is trying to provide fans with as much information as possible for the most reasonable price. But at the same time, by providing these “Cliff’s Notes”-like collections, they are robbing fans from much of what made this setting so special in the first place.
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