You don't know the dark of it! Discover the multiverse! Explore Sigil, the City of Doors, filled with portals to every layer of every plane. All you need is the right key, including.
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Return to Book Page. Taken to the Edge "TM" This setting has hot attitude and a hard-edged style. So, explore Sigil, the center of everything, and then take your adventures to the next level of reality -- and beyond Fantasy So, explore Sigil, the center of everything, and then take your adventures to the next level of reality -- and beyond Get A Copy.
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Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Planescape Campaign Setting. Jun 10, J. Keely rated it it was amazing Shelves: roleplaying , fantasy , childhood , urban-fantasy , reviewed. All fantasy is symbolic.
Magic itself is almost purely a symbolic literary device, lending philosophical meaning to events and objects. Our hero wins because he is moral and good--yet we as readers know that morality or personality, or even force is not the deciding factor in mortal combat.
So the hero wields a sword, and that sword's magic becomes a symbol of his moral might. He can defeat ten men at once because his is a sword of Truth, or Justice, or Faith. His glowing armor represents a right All fantasy is symbolic. His glowing armor represents a righteous power, as does his shining helmet. Even the castles and cities develop moralities and personalities, evident by their stately tallness or their crumbling walls or sturdy gates.
Like the stormy night of a Gothic tale, these physical objects adopt emotional and ideological power. But such symbols can only be as powerful, or as deep, as the ideas behind them. Most fantasy gives us simplistic 'us vs. And since these tales operate primarily by symbol, right and wrong are not considered or debated, but clash against one another, black and white, until the one the author prefers dashes the other to the earth.
The ideals of bravery, righteousness, chivalry, love, and virtue survive the nationalistic epic poems that inspired the fantasy genre, ensuring that almost every fantasy world and story resembles the next. Likewise, 'evil' continues as a theme, because it is easier to believe in evil than to believe that anyone might disagree with your own personal opinions.
What is remarkable about Planescape is that it acknowledges this inherently symbolic form of storytelling without falling to biased simplicity. Why stop at good and evil? Why not expand the symbology to include various and sundry views?
Hence we have cities and castles that do not represent dead metaphors like 'good and evil', but rather give us tangible representations of paranoia, cruelty, haughtiness, force of will, madness, lust, ennui, artistic drive, and the sublime.
Why should a sword of bitter sorrow bite less deep than one of justice? Planescape draws from many older traditions of literary symbol, including the more fanciful epics, the metaphysical poets, the self-searching existentialists, modern authors like Calvino and Borges who blur idea and reality, and other texts concerned primarily with questioning and exploring our ideas of humanity. Indeed, it could be said that this is where my love affair weird fantasy began, playing this odd game with my friends as an adolescent.
It was there I began to learn about symbols and metaphors, about warring ideas and philosophies, without even realizing I was doing it. It meant that years later, as I read works by Peake, Harrison, and Pavic, I instinctively recognized those strange places as the same ones I used to play in, as a child.
It made overt and obvious the simplistic symbolism of other games and books, so that I was no longer satisfied with such blatant and manipulative escapism. What thrill is there in crossing swords with an orc when you have pierced the heart of death, herself? Where is the charm in winking at a barmaid when the tongue of delirium has wet these lips?
It pushed me to look for bigger games, and bigger ideas--which is to say it set me on the path I walk today. In other settings, one often must play the hero, or sometimes the reluctant hero, because there is no ideological journey for the disenfranchised, the self-serving, the cowardly, or the incompetently well-meaning. Planescape leaves room for many paths, many ways and ideas. It does not destroy the possibility of the monomyth, which plays out in almost all other fantasy novels or settings, but it refuses to allow the monomyth to be an escape or an end in itself.
That may be the most remarkable aspect of the setting: that power and expansion are no longer viable goals, but unlike Paranoia and Call of Cthulhu, neither is death the ultimate endpoint. Rather, one is encouraged to develop something more ultimately satisfying than either extreme: a full and unusual life. My Fantasy Book Suggestions View all 44 comments.
Shelves: role-playing-games. Controversial when it was published, Planescape has nevertheless demonstrated a lasting impact on fantasy role playing. The premise of Planescape was to take the somewhat clunky cosmological "multiverse" of Dungeons and Dragons most notably the "Outer Planes" where the heavens, hells, and other afterlives existed and attempt to describe life in that surreal venue.
The core theme of Planescape is that, in a world of pure thought, belief overtly shapes reality. As a result, the politics of the setting are quite literally philosophical, because strong beliefs manifest as real-world power.
These philosophical debates and battles are fought most fiercely in Sigil rhymes with wiggle , the setting's central metropolis. Taking a page from the White Wolf playbook, designer Zeb Cook made the central conflict of the setting a political and ideological free-for-all between fifteen "Factions," each subscribing to a very specific philosophical creed.
The "Believers of the Source," for example, are self-improvement-driven reincarnationists. By contrast, the "Harmonium" are unity-driven pseudo-fascist militarists and the "Bleak Cabal" are overt nihilists. Each Faction has its own special advantages and disadvantages, much like a White Wolf game. What makes Planescape remarkable is that it is essentially the first attempt by modern roleplaying to directly address the role of ideology, faith, and debate in politics. Set in a sort of "high fantasy industrial revolution," Planescape dares to ask questions normally taboo in vanilla RPGs.
These questions include such real-world-relevant issues as "is faith in the divine justified? It is said that conflict is the engine of narrative, and that our ability to sympathize with that conflict creates the emotional bond necessary to invest in a story.
No matter your political outlook, Planescape laid the groundwork for stories you could invest in. Without question, Planescape was met with intense skepticism by some gamers.
Despite alienating less intellectual gamers who didn't want a gray area between Good and Evil , Planescape also formed an avid, possibly even rabid fan base. Since Planescape's release, a host of similar forms of dark urban fantasy have become popular. John Harrison's Viriconium are just a few examples of bringing fantasy both into a more modern context and into a darker urban world-view. In a very real way, Planescape primed me for this new spate of speculative fiction by giving me a much more interesting world to explore than had existed prior.
Apr 30, Linn Browning rated it it was amazing Shelves: rpg-titles. I hadn't even realized I was a fan until looking back over the artwork from Planscape and comparing it to recent work of his that I liked. Once I realized it was all by the same artist, I threw myself whole-heartedly into collecting the rest of the Planescape material and infecting the rest of my table-top group with Planes-love. Apr 08, Tim S. Feb 01, Nick Klagge rated it really liked it. That might be OK, though, as Planescape is much more about the lore and feel of the setting--particularly the city of Sigil--than about mechanics that would change between editions.
Thus, I decided to buy the original Planescape box set published for 2nd edition. I think this was a good decision. There is a lot of good non-edition-specific content here, and a lot of really awesome art by Tony diTerlizzi. The best one was "Sigil and Beyond," and actually I'm now planning to read a couple of the other old supplements focused on the city of Sigil.
So what is Planescape and why do I like it so much? The general idea is that the "normal fantasy realm" of existence is on the Prime Material Plane, which is just one of many planes that make up the multiverse. There are also "inner" planes that are elementally-based, and "outer" planes that are alignment-based good, evil, law, chaos, in various combinations.
How do you run a Planescape campaign?
Discover the multiverse! Explore Sigil, the City of Doors, filled with portals to every layer of every plane. All you need is the right key, including From Sigil all the Outer Planes may be sampled by novice and veteran explorers alike. Until now, only the most powerful wizards could peek into the magnificent multiverse, but no longer!
Planescape Campaign Setting
The set was designed by David "Zeb" Cook and published in It introduced the Planescape setting and was highly praised by White Wolf and Pyramid magazines. This includes their descriptions, physical and magical conditions, and native hazards. The Outer Planes are also detailed, with their layers and the realms possible on each layer. Important layers and realms are included in the descriptions of individual Outer Planes, including which gods "Powers" make their home there. Also described with the Outer Planes are the four unique planar paths—the rivers Oceanus and Styx , the tree Yggdrasil , and Mount Olympus —which touch many layers of the various Outer Planes and can take travelers from one place to another.
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