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D&D General D&D's feel vs. what D&D should keep - final comparison

Exactly this. When I first looked at the Great Wheel Cosmology in 5e, I thought "Oh, cool! Look at all of these planes of existence! I'm sure that in the near-50 years of D&D's history that these have all been well-thought-out and detailed to have them included in campaigns, especially as places for the PCs to journey to!"

Then I spent about an hour or two reading about the planes in the DMG. I quickly fell in love with a few of the planes (Mechanus, Limbo, the Feywild and Shadowfell, the Astral Plane, the Elemental Planes, the eternal war aspects of Ysgard and Acheron, and a few others), but also began to realize that a lot of the planes were lacking in description and/or largely redundant with other planes. I really liked the idea of Carceri as "the Escape Room to End All Escape Rooms", but it barely had any description in the DMG and other official sources, so I never really ended up using it (I used it one time, and it was because of an extremely unlucky roll from a PC against a casting of Prismatic Spray).
I'm amused by how little of what you fell in love with is part of the original Great Wheel. The Feywild and the Shadowfell are pure 4e/World Axis, as for that matter is the Elemental Chaos as opposed to much purer elemental planes. Mechanus is a substitute that doesn't really fit - but is so much stronger than the original Nirvana that no one cares. And Ysgard is just off-brand Asgard, not that there's anything wrong with that.
also got a few questions, like "Why the heck are there 7 different flavors of Heaven and 7 others for Hell,
7 Heavens is so someone can say they are in 7th Heaven. The Nine Hells (not seven) started as the Nine Circles of Hell in Dante's Inferno.
but no Plane of Mirrors, Dream/Nightmare Realm, Death World, Twilight Forest, or . . . [etc]?",
Half of that's in the Feywild or Shadowfell. Why there wasn't before 4e? Pass. There's a reason fluff wise I consider it goes 4e> 5e > everything before.
"What's the difference between the Beastlands and the Feywild?",
The difference between a lightly satirical version of Narnia and Faerie.
"Why are the embodiments of pure chaos [Slaad] evil, multicolored frog-men and not Fey?!?!",
Slaad made it to D&D first.
"Why do we have two different planes of War? [Ysgard and Acheron]",
Different approaches. In Valhalla war is almost fun. Acheron is much grimmer. This is one I can actually see. Of course I once again prefer the 4e World Axis domains of war because one invaded the other.
"Why isn't there a plane of Dragons and another of Giants?",
Pass
"Why isn't there a Mount Olympus Plane if there's a Hades,
Because Olympus isn't supposed to be infinitely big. Mount Olympus is in Arvendor (CG)
and why isn't Hades the Underworld!?!?",
No idea at all here.
"Why do we need a plane for Neutral Evil fiends [the extremely boring and uninspiring Yugoloths], and why is the plane for Neutral Evil fiends not the Neutral Evil Plane of Existence [Hades]!?!?"
If we have Neutral Evil Fiends (itself a little box-ticky) they gotta have a domain. But no idea other than they wanted to put the anchors for Mount Olympus and Yggdrasil right at the bottom of the wheel.
and "Why the heck are all of these redundant planes of existence different from each other, and not just separate parts of different, bigger, and more interesting plane of existence?"
There is. In 4e it's called the Astral Sea and in 5e it's called the Great Wheel and goes on the outside of the axis.
 

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TheSword

Legend
But why are they even there except as vague background if you can't interact with them?
You absolutely can interact with them. You can go there, see the amazing wonders, interact with the denizens and see the beliefs that inform the place.
And space may be infinite - but that doesn't mean that there's very much there. Space may be vast but it's somewhere that in most SF you travel through to get to interesting places.

I'll let you into a secret. Alignment undermines what makes Planescape an interesting setting - and indeed by the premises should be removable if something else takes over as dominant. Although some of the Factions can be matched up to the nine alignments many can't and, indeed, are uneasy alliances. (There's a reason why post Faction War the Mercykillers split, for example). Removing alignment from Planescape wouldn't change much - but the Faction War gutted the setting.

And no one wants e.g. everything in the Feywild to be detailed in black and white ink. Why would they? I mean it's Faerie - and is explicitly a mirror for the Mortal World. Bits are detailed of course. But "Fey mirror of where the PCs have spent their past few adventures and that's easiest to cross into where the correspondence is closest" is inspiring for specifics to interact with is inspiring in a way "infinite conceptual plane" isn't.

Or, to sum up, Planescape is a great idea for a setting that has always been weighed down by having to carry the Great Wheel round its neck. And the best bits of Planescape (Sigil and the Factions) are precisely those furthest from the Great Wheel's infinite planes.
Perhaps the infinite nature of the planes is a problem for you. It doesn’t bother me. The planes are affected by belief, as are the spells that take people there. I have no problem suspending disbelief when folks arrive near the place they’re looking for. It’s like the map of Avernus in BG Descent. There are some two dozen locations detailed for one plane. That is just the locations relevant to that adventure.

There is plenty on the planes - an infinite quantity of things. They’re just not all detailed. Examples are given of some… I ask again, how many do you need?

I’m not really interested in an assertion that Alignment undermines Planescape without specifics of how and why. It’s your opinion but I’m not going to engage with that.
 
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Faolyn

Hero
That's kind of the definition of a Thermian argument, you know. Most of the questions were more from a design standpoint and not a lore standpoint (like why the Underworld/Hades isn't the plane of death, and what the real purpose of two different planes of War are).
No, I wouldn't say that those questions are answered from a design standpoint. Or rather, there's enough lore to them that the lore is more important than the design. For instance: there is no singular Underworld in the Great Wheel. All the planes are the planes of death because dead souls go to each and every plane. Also, Ysgard is a plane of glorious and honorable battle waged for noble purposes, or for fun, with the knowledge that death is not forever and petitioners will be reborn to battle again. Acheron is a plane of meaningless bloodshed and vicious massacres waged for evil purposes like bigotry, hatred, revenge, or for the ego of the generals. They're both planes dedicated to war, but to very different different aspects of war.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I'm amused by how little of what you fell in love with is part of the original Great Wheel. The Feywild and the Shadowfell are pure 4e/World Axis, as for that matter is the Elemental Chaos as opposed to much purer elemental planes. Mechanus is a substitute that doesn't really fit - but is so much stronger than the original Nirvana that no one cares. And Ysgard is just off-brand Asgard, not that there's anything wrong with that.
I know. The only planes from the original Great Wheel that I actually like are Limbo and Mechanus, and I have problems with those, too (like I said earlier, the fact that the embodiments of pure chaos are multicolored-frog people (and not even the only multicolored frog-people in the game; I'm looking at you, Grung) is a big turn-off for me from Limbo. I do like the Githzerai, however). I'm aware that the Feywild and Shadowfell came from 4e (well, kinda. They were demiplanes before 4e). (I also think that Limbo and the Elemental Chaos are too similar, and might as well be combined.)
7 Heavens is so someone can say they are in 7th Heaven. The Nine Hells (not seven) started as the Nine Circles of Hell in Dante's Inferno.
I meant "seven versions of hell and heaven" as there being 7 different upper planes (heaven) and 7 different lower planes (hell). I'm aware of the origin of the Nine Hells. Just from a design standpoint, I don't see the need to have 7 different Lower Planes and 7 different Upper Planes. Hell, one Lower Plane and one Upper Plane would work with the sub-planes that nearly every Great Wheel plane has.
Half of that's in the Feywild or Shadowfell. Why there wasn't before 4e? Pass. There's a reason fluff wise I consider it goes 4e> 5e > everything before.
IMO, the Plane of Dreams is a pretty distinct concept from the Feywild, as is the Plane of Nightmares and Plane of Death from the Shadowfell. Twilight Forest could be a part of the Feywild (like one of the new Domains of Delight), but it could also be its own thing (as Eberron demonstrates by merging the Beastlands with a Twilight Forest).
The difference between a lightly satirical version of Narnia and Faerie.
Yeah, I don't see the need for that. Narnia already has a ton of Fey-creatures (Satyrs/Fauns, Centaurs, Nymphs, Merfolk, etc), so they might as well be one and the same.
Slaad made it to D&D first.
Slaad had their own plane of existence first. Fey have been around since the beginning, and have always been known for their chaotic and tricksy nature.
Different approaches. In Valhalla war is almost fun. Acheron is much grimmer. This is one I can actually see. Of course I once again prefer the 4e World Axis domains of war because one invaded the other.
Then just make one plane of war with cosmic different battlefields 🤷‍♂️ One for Vikings where they fight Valhalla-style, one for Goblinoids vs. Orcs, one for the Blood War, one for Celestials vs. Fiends, etc. Redundancy doesn't help anyone, IMO.
They're finally answering the Plane of Dragons question in Fizbans, saying that the Material Plane is the Plane of Dragons (created by the dragon gods and the dragons are native to it), though it is very late into the hobby to be giving a sort of explanation like this, IMO. Giants? Notsomuch.
Because Olympus isn't supposed to be infinitely big. Mount Olympus is in Arvendor (CG)
Then just make Mount Olympus infinitely big. Deities live on it, for Heavens' sakes! (pun intended)
No idea at all here.
What makes me even more mad/confused is that there's Hades (which isn't the Underworld, for some reason, and doesn't have Hades/Pluto in it), the Shadowfell, and the Fugue Plane that all sort of function as a "Plane of Death" (at least name/concept-wise), even though Hades is the most irrelevant of the 3.
If we have Neutral Evil Fiends (itself a little box-ticky) they gotta have a domain. But no idea other than they wanted to put the anchors for Mount Olympus and Yggdrasil right at the bottom of the wheel.
Kinda my point. Yugoloths are box-ticky, and Gehanna exists only because of box-ticking (and it's not even in the right spot!).
There is. In 4e it's called the Astral Sea and in 5e it's called the Great Wheel and goes on the outside of the axis.
Well, the Great Wheel isn't really a plane of existence, it's a way of organizing the planes (and the Astral Sea/Elemental Chaos is kinda the same). What I meant was more "why not just have a few Upper Planes and a few Lower Planes (probably not called that anymore and organized differently) and get rid of all the filler?".
 

There is plenty on the planes - an infinite quantity of things. They’re just not all detailed. Examples are given of some… I ask again, how many do you need?
I think the biggest point of disconnect is when you say "infinite" my immediate understanding is "empty to the point of sterility". The planes themselves can be infinite, but the number of people is always going to be countable. Which means that there's an infinite amount of space per person in any of these planes - and it's either going to be more or less empty or in a best case scenario what's there will be procedurally generated.

Space may be infinite and if so there may be an infinite number of things in it. But so far as we know all the interesting stuff is in the miniscule amount that's stars or orbiting stars. The rest's just a void.

And at a bare minimum? Three. If I was detailing a country I'd want at minimum a capital city and what makes it both distinct and part of the country, a rural community, and probably a small town. These infinite planes are supposedly much much bigger. Which makes just three far more egregious than using just three settlements to represent the whole of Earth.
 

TheSword

Legend
I think the biggest point of disconnect is when you say "infinite" my immediate understanding is "empty to the point of sterility". The planes themselves can be infinite, but the number of people is always going to be countable. Which means that there's an infinite amount of space per person in any of these planes - and it's either going to be more or less empty or in a best case scenario what's there will be procedurally generated.

Space may be infinite and if so there may be an infinite number of things in it. But so far as we know all the interesting stuff is in the miniscule amount that's stars or orbiting stars. The rest's just a void.

And at a bare minimum? Three. If I was detailing a country I'd want at minimum a capital city and what makes it both distinct and part of the country, a rural community, and probably a small town. These infinite planes are supposedly much much bigger. Which makes just three far more egregious than using just three settlements to represent the whole of Earth.
No the rest is not empty. Infinite means infinite opportunity. Not an expectation to fill that.

You want to add inverted volcanos rising up and down on plumes of fire, you can find a plane to put it into.

You have a god who’s domain you want to fit in… that’s going to be easy. No need to get the shoehorn out.

The interesting stuff is whatever is relevant to your campaign. If you expect three things on every single plane then fair enough. If my memory serves most planes in the 2e Planescape boxes have 6-12 areas with at least half a page on each. There are pretty much 32 pages on each plane. Then there are the dozens of supplementary products that go into more details.

That said I don’t get down on other campaign setting because each location doesn’t have dozens of fleshed out locations. I just see it as space to put my own stuff in.
 

No the rest is not empty. Infinite means infinite opportunity. Not an expectation to fill that.
Infinite means an infinite amount of space. If space is infinite then it is mostly empty. There's no need to fill it - indeed my expectation if somewhere is described as infinite is that most of it isn't filled. It's empty - and we're supposed to admire it for its structure. Space is beautiful and infinite is a thing.
You want to add inverted volcanos rising up and down on plumes of fire, you can find a plane to put it into.
So what you're saying is that it's approximately as useful as saying that there are multiple demiplanes created by various individuals. Except we're not playing with infinities there.
 

TheSword

Legend
Infinite means an infinite amount of space. If space is infinite then it is mostly empty. There's no need to fill it - indeed my expectation if somewhere is described as infinite is that most of it isn't filled. It's empty - and we're supposed to admire it for its structure. Space is beautiful and infinite is a thing.

So what you're saying is that it's approximately as useful as saying that there are multiple demiplanes created by various individuals. Except we're not playing with infinities there.
I think you’re getting hung up on the concept. The space isn’t mostly empty. It’s filled with the denizens of the planes and locations that fit that plane. The domains of the gods of the infinite material planes that exist that we’ve never heard of. The untold millions of homebrew worlds.

Planescape is a setting that can handle that in its stride.
 

TheSword

Legend
The Great Wheel is a place where alignment is at its best. Alignment is intrinsic and essential to the fundamental structure of the multiverse in the Planescape version of the Great Wheel, and in that setting alignment works.

The reason it works, is because in the great wheel Alignment comes first and then individuals are free to act their own way and then deal with the consequences of that. The variations of alignment inform the nature of the plane. The concept of Strongly aligned and Mildly aligned work together to create some very interesting concepts.

For instance the Strongly Good and Law aligned Celestia is the epitome of hard work and striving for good in an ordered way. Whereas the Strongly Law Aligned and Mildly Good aligned Arcadia is a plane where the greater good becomes more important than the individual, where harmony is the be all and all. This may be a granular distinction but the neatly ordered rows of identically planted crops and perfect fields, and the happy people because being unhappy just isn’t tolerated is a fascinating concept for me that is capable of standing on its own as a place to adventure. The Mildly Lawful, Strongly Good Bytopia is the plane of helpful industry, of labors of love, pastoral industry, a fair trade. Again a totally different feel to Arcadia and Mount Celestia.

That too can be contrasted with Strongly Law and Mildly Evil aligned Archeron, the plane of collateral damage, of endless war, and the military machine with all the inhumanity that comes with that. Contrasted with the Strongly Law and Evil aligned Baator is the epitome of hierarchical evil, diabolical plots and ordered tyranny.

When looked at through the eyes of Mild and Strong alignment all the planes have a very distinct personality. Brought to life by some very imaginative and clever writing.

Incidentally it was raised earlier that the planes were inconsistent in that the gods of the same pantheons don’t live together. However Mount Olympus as a location touches several planes as does Yggdrasil connecting the realms of the Greek and Norse pantheons so they can live together apart. It has been already considered.
 
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I think you’re getting hung up on the concept.
So what you're telling me is that the actual concept is worse than useless?
The space isn’t mostly empty. It’s filled with the denizens of the planes and locations that fit that plane.
Dozens << Infinite. And the primary property presented in the overview is infinite.
The domains of the gods of the infinite material planes that exist that we’ve never heard of. The untold millions of homebrew worlds.

Planescape is a setting that can handle that in its stride.
So can most settings. And they do it without having lots of infinite planes. Infinite is a completely different concept to really really massive. And infinite is a great concept for exploring vastness and majesty. I'm not "getting hung up on the concept" so much as responding to the concept as presented. Infinity is a great concept for some things. Like I say, space is effectively infinite. It's just not great for adventuring.
 

TheSword

Legend
So what you're telling me is that the actual concept is worse than useless?
It’s one characteristic not the main event.
Dozens << Infinite. And the primary property presented in the overview is infinite.
I said denizens not dozens.
So can most settings. And they do it without having lots of infinite planes. Infinite is a completely different concept to really really massive. And infinite is a great concept for exploring vastness and majesty. I'm not "getting hung up on the concept" so much as responding to the concept as presented. Infinity is a great concept for some things. Like I say, space is effectively infinite. It's just not great for adventuring.
I feel that at this point you’re not interested in discussing the setting just repeating your dislike of the principle of something not having finite borders. It seems like a pretty specific and not massively important detail to focus on.
 

TheSword

Legend
I’ve also never understood the hate on Yugoloths. Devils will make a deal and honour it. Demons won’t make a deal in the first place, they will just try to rip you apart/seduce you. Yugoloths though will make a deal with you and stick to it right up to when it doesn’t suit their purposes. They’re the mercenaries that are only as loyal as you pay them and only until some comes along who pays more. Ultimate selfishness and bottomless greed. Liars and deceivers. Seems pretty straightforward to me.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I’ve also never understood the hate on Yugoloths. Devils will make a deal and honour it. Demons won’t make a deal in the first place, they will just try to rip you apart/seduce you. Yugoloths though will make a deal with you and stick to it right up to when it doesn’t suit their purposes. They’re the mercenaries that are only as loyal as you pay them and only until some comes along who pays more. Ultimate selfishness and bottomless greed. Seems pretty straightforward to me.
Their name is stupid, they're not rooted in folklore/mythology like Demons, Devils, and Fiends, they all look ridiculous, and they're both more lawful and chaotic than both Devils (devils generally don't do mercenary work, cause money typically means nothing to them, unless it's with Soul Coins or Mammon) and Demons (the whole "which one of you is truly chaotic, the ones who are predictable at betraying others, or the ones that are always scheming for the right moment?" debate).
 

The Great Wheel is a place where alignment is at its best. Alignment is intrinsic and essential to the fundamental structure of the multiverse in the Planescape version of the Great Wheel, and in that setting alignment works.
And that's why I want Planescape to be a published setting again: so alignment can be in it's place and not bother anyone else anymore.

I really hate that Planescape by default pokes itself into all the other settings by being ALL OF EXISTENCE. And take the Far Realm and it's Lovecraft fetish with it, please.
 


TheSword

Legend
Their name is stupid, they're not rooted in folklore/mythology like Demons, Devils, and Fiends, they all look ridiculous, and they're both more lawful and chaotic than both Devils (devils generally don't do mercenary work, cause money typically means nothing to them, unless it's with Soul Coins or Mammon) and Demons (the whole "which one of you is truly chaotic, the ones who are predictable at betraying others, or the ones that are always scheming for the right moment?" debate).
Ah, ok. We’re down to calling them ‘stupid’ now. At this point I think I’ll disengage. I have no problem with a type of fiend that’s not bound to law or chaos.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Ah, ok. We’re down to calling them ‘stupid’ now.
I said their name was stupid, not them as a whole, though I'm not fond of them, and do find them a bit silly (I know, I know, lots of D&D is silly, but Fiends aren't supposed to be, IMO. Fiends are supposed to be scary, not wacky). I certainly don't mean to offend anyone that does like them, I'm just stating my opinion as someone fairly new to the hobby.

"Devils" and "Demons" both roll off the tongue, as does "Fiend", but Yugoloth doesn't. "Yoo-goh-loth" doesn't sound like a 3rd main category of fiends, it sound's like you're cheering for someone with a peculiar name at a sports event "You go, Loth!" or saying that someone is reluctantly leaving.
At this point I think I’ll disengage. I have no problem with a type of fiend that’s not bound to law or chaos.
I have no problem with it, either, I just think that Yugoloths are not good at doing that thing and were just made for grid-filling. There could have easily been another class/category of Neutral Evil fiends, and I don't think Yugoloths are good at fulfilling the idea of one.
 

The Great Wheel is a place where alignment is at its best. Alignment is intrinsic and essential to the fundamental structure of the multiverse in the Planescape version of the Great Wheel, and in that setting alignment works.
And how does that match up to the Factions of Sigil?

The other premise of Sigil's factions is "the more people who believe the basic laws of the universe work a certain way, the more the universe tends to work in just that way". The Great Wheel on the other hand is immutable, inhuman, and inherently indicates some sort of balance between good and evil. If there was a faction within Sigil that held sway and the one thing the other factions could agree on was that they wanted them deposed to start to shatter the Great Wheel then that would assist the theme. But it isn't there as far as I can tell. Which means that the Great Wheel only works if you throw away the central conceit of the factions and of the central city to Planescape.

The vast, inhuman symmetry of the Great Wheel that sorts everyone and everything onto its predetermined boxes is a good match for the vast, inhuman planes whose single biggest shared characteristic is that they are infinite. And works in a setting like Dragonlance where the nonsense of "balance between good and evil" is something that must be preserved.

The infinite planes could also work exceptionally well for a nautical-inspired setting like Spelljammer; while the sea might not actually be infinite it is massive and you can easily get lost in it for days, never seeing land - especially when the wind is blowing. It's a strong trait for some settings.
The reason it works, is because in the great wheel Alignment comes first and then individuals are free to act their own way and then deal with the consequences of that. The variations of alignment inform the nature of the plane. The concept of Strongly aligned and Mildly aligned work together to create some very interesting concepts.
I see how you see that, thank you.
 

TheSword

Legend
I said their name was stupid, not them as a whole, though I'm not fond of them, and do find them a bit silly (I know, I know, lots of D&D is silly, but Fiends aren't supposed to be, IMO. Fiends are supposed to be scary, not wacky). I certainly don't mean to offend anyone that does like them, I'm just stating my opinion as someone fairly new to the hobby.

"Devils" and "Demons" both roll off the tongue, as does "Fiend", but Yugoloth doesn't. "Yoo-goh-loth" doesn't sound like a 3rd main category of fiends, it sound's like you're cheering for someone with a peculiar name at a sports event "You go, Loth!" or saying that someone is reluctantly leaving.

I have no problem with it, either, I just think that Yugoloths are not good at doing that thing and were just made for grid-filling. There could have easily been another class/category of Neutral Evil fiends, and I don't think Yugoloths are good at fulfilling the idea of one.
Well it’s devils, demons and daemons.

Baatezu, Tanar’ri and Yugoloth so I guess they don’t have the monopoly on unusual names. Though I don’t see how it’s any worse that Githyanki, Aasimar, Slaad or Modron. Ultimately I think you either get the aesthetic or you don’t. Or if you don’t like one elements, don’t include them.

I personally think Yugoloth’s are pretty cool. Arcanaloth for instance are used over and over again in all sorts of adventures and in my opinion make far better tempted and brokers of power than glabrezu do.
 


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