D&D General Manual of the Planes: The Switch to a Standard Multiverse, and Why it Matters (Part 2)

Mercurius

Legend
I want to emphasize one aspect of the Grubbian Amendment. It essentially states that every DM has their own Prime Material Plane, which means that every DM can decide what is in the "true" PMP. The Gygaxian model implies that your world is within my PMP, because all alternate realities are part of the multiverse.

No offense, but what if I don't want that? What if you have wombats as a race in your world and I think that's silly? (Though I love wombats). What if I, as the DM, want to exercise my creative control over my creation? Of course this was always the case, but the Grubb Amendment just codified it.

Now did this slight shift impact the product line? Who knows, but I don't think so. Or rather, it is correlative, not causative. The examples of "weird alternate realities" that you cited are Gygaxian settings, or at least part of the Gygaxian ethos. The reason we didn't see more of that sort of thing after Grubb is not because of Grubb's Amendment, but because Gygax was banished from the realm. Note:

1986: Gygax leaves TSR
1987: Manual of the Planes; Forgotten Realms gray box
1989: AD&D 2E; Spelljammer
1990-97: Hollow World, Dark Sun, Al-Qadim, Birthright, Council of Wyrms, Planescape, Jakandor, Greyhawk: From the Ashes

What followed after Gygax left was an explosion of (non-Gygaxian) worlds, as well as a shift away from Gygaxian fantasy as the default assumption (for better or worse). What I see your real issue being is just that: D&D became further de-centralized from Gygaxian fantasy (and this really started in 1984, with Dragonlance).

So again, correlation, not causation.
 
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TheSword

Legend
Prime material planes in published material were free to have their own cosmologies or extremely bizarre set ups.

Athas has a very weird cosmology and set of rules about afterlife, the gods and magic that ignore the outer planes but still exist within them.

The forgotten realms have their own cosmology that doesn’t reference the outer planes but rather the homes of the gods.

Eberron has its own cosmology largely ignoring the outer planes.

I think it’s the case that ‘official’ writers pretty much ignore the great wheel whenever and wherever it suits them.

Incidentally Ravenloft started out as a bubble in the ethereal plane I believe which was a transitive plane, not an outer plane.
 


Hoffmand

Explorer
I think some of this is semantics and taking things a little too literally. Yes gygax’s world was the prime material plane for him. And when I DM my setting is the prime material plane. And when John DM’s his setting is the prime material plane. And when mike DM’s his setting is the prime material plane. Except for you Snarf yours has to be an alternate 😉
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
I want to emphasize one aspect of the Grubbian Amendment. It essentially states that every DM has their own Prime Material Plane, which means that every DM can decide what is in the "true" PMP. The Gygaxian model implies that your world is within my PMP, because all alternate realities are part of the multiverse.

No offense, but what if I don't want that? What if you have wombats as a race in your world and I think that's silly? (Though I love wombats). What if I, as the DM, want to exercise my creative control over my creation? Of course this was always the case, but the Grubb Amendment just codified it.

Now did this slight shift impact the product line? Who knows, but I don't think so. Or rather, it is correlative, not causative. The examples of "weird alternate realities" that you cited are Gygaxian settings, or at least part of the Gygaxian ethos. The reason we didn't see more of that sort of thing after Grubb is not because of Grubb's Amendment, but because Gygax was banished from the realm. Note:

1986: Gygax leaves TSR
1987: Manual of the Planes; Forgotten Realms gray box
1989: AD&D 2E; Spelljammer
1990-97: Hollow World, Dark Sun, Al-Qadim, Birthright, Council of Wyrms, Planescape, Jakandor, Greyhawk: From the Ashes

What followed after Gygax left was an explosion of (non-Gygaxian) worlds, as well as a shift away from Gygaxian fantasy as the default assumption (for better or worse). What I see your real issue being is just that: D&D became further de-centralized from Gygaxian fantasy (and this really started in 1984, with Dragonlance).

So again, correlation, not causation.

Well, I am about to go into the 2e issue, which I hope was properly previewed by this thread!

2e was Primer, 1e was Doctor Who; I think the issue is that people feel an instinctive need to argue on the internet (was this good, was this bad) which I am not really that interested in. If you feel the need to say, "No offense," then that's probably not something I am going to engage with, because I'm more interested in conversations, and not in being right.

Which is to say that I think you are misconstruing things a great deal with your first paragraph (it is about ease of travel, not about authorship) but that's okay. Different opinions. :)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
1. It changes the established paradigm of what the PMP is. Prior to this book, the PMP was a singular plane encompassing infinite realms (worlds, planes). Now, there were infinite Prime Material Planes, each with their own Ethereal Plane, but the same inner planes and outer planes. This seems like a small distinction (one vessel containing infinite planes v. infinite separate planes) but it led to the next change, which is ....

2. It explicitly made traveling between alternate planes within the PMP more difficult. After all, if they are separate, then it would be more difficult, right! Of course, it stated that they all share the same inner and outer planes, and never fully explained how you'd travel to the inner plane and get back to your own PMP, but that's neither here nor there. And then ....

Why would it be more difficult? Before the change you couldn't get from one to the other with a teleport or similar magic. You still had to go plane hopping to get there. As for getting back to your prime, you just go to the Astral and take the correct color pool.

3. It created a system of arbitrary classifications (physical factor, magical factor, and temporal factor) that, as far I knew, were not used in future publications, to "classify" all alternate PMPs.

What makes you think that they were arbitrary and not thought out? Sure, they weren't used in future publications. Probably because they couldn't be. They wouldn't assume that any particular buyer had the Manual of the Planes to reference.

The net effect of these changes is what we see today; the loss of the use of the "alternate PMP" as a primary design space, and the codification of the use of the outer planes for "weird" or "kooky" design (memorably in settings such as Planescape). Moreover, it had the effect of the increased "silo-ing" of campaign worlds and the reification of a more static, less weird multiverse.

I disagree with this premise. People inclined to make an alternate prime for the PCs to go to will still be so inclined, and will create a way to get there.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Well, I am about to go into the 2e issue, which I hope was properly previewed by this thread!

2e was Primer, 1e was Doctor Who; I think the issue is that people feel an instinctive need to argue on the internet (was this good, was this bad) which I am not really that interested in. If you feel the need to say, "No offense," then that's probably not something I am going to engage with, because I'm more interested in conversations, and not in being right.

Which is to say that I think you are misconstruing things a great deal with your first paragraph (it is about ease of travel, not about authorship) but that's okay. Different opinions. :)

You are cherry-picking one little thing that had very little meaning to what I was saying ("no offense").

Ease of travel is not an issue, imo. That is entirely up to you, especially considering that your version of the PMP can be based on the Gygaxian approach if you want.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
The net effect of these changes is what we see today; the loss of the use of the "alternate PMP" as a primary design space, and the codification of the use of the outer planes for "weird" or "kooky" design (memorably in settings such as Planescape). Moreover, it had the effect of the increased "silo-ing" of campaign worlds and the reification of a more static, less weird multiverse.

So, you say this... but I am not at all convinced that is true. Let's look at a timeline...
1977 - Blackmoor
1980 - Greyhawk
1980 - Forgotten Realms
1981 - Mystara
1983 - Ravenloft
1984 - Pellinore
1984 - Dragonlance
1985 - Lankhmar
1986 - Kara-Tur
1987 - Manual of the Planes
1989 - Spelljammer
1990 - Hollow World
1991 - Dark Sun
1992 - Al-Qadim
1994 - Birthright
1994 - Council of Wyrms
1994 - Planescape
1994 - Kingdoms of Kalamar
1997 - Jakandor
1997- Rokugan
1999 - Dragon Fist
2000 - Mahasarpa
2003 - Ghostwalk
2004 - Eberron
2007 - Nentir Vale
2018 - Ravnica
2020 - Exandria
2020 - Theros

Let us look, first, at the settings before MotP - Blackmoor, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Mystara, Dragonlance, Kara-tur, Ravenloft. Only one of these (Ravenloft) is really a "weird" setting with somewhat different design. Dragonlance has some specific stuff going on, but it is a war, with dragons - tweaked wizardry, but hardly an oddity in the D&D design space.

If in the time before MotP, the "primary" design space for weird stuff is in alternate PMPs... why are so few of them weird?

Meanwhile, in the time after MotP, we get... Spelljammer and Planescape. But we also get Hollow World, Dark Sun, Birthright, Council of Wyrms, Ghostwalk, Eberron...

Two planar settings, and then... at least six others that explore new design spaces that are not planar.

I think, sir, your general thesis may not be supported by the evidence.
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
If in the time before MotP, the "primary" design space for weird stuff is in alternate PMPs... why are so few of them weird?

I don't think you were following what I wrote, or, perhaps, I didn't explain it to your understanding.

The full campaign settings were not the design space for the weird stuff pre-Manual of the Planes. That's why there was a relative dearth prior to MoTP, and a flowering afterward (the 2e explosion).

It's even more pronounced if you view it in terms of Gygax multiverse, post-Gygax. Then, it's Greyhawk/DL, and everything else.

No, the weirdness was in the world hopping (Oearth/Yrth/Earth, etc.), genre crossing (explicit rules for Boot Hill and GW, and encouragement to go to non-fantasy worlds in the core rule books), and in the modules (as previously recounted, this was common, from the EX series to the multiple worlds spinning off from Q1 to Amber etc.).

So your point, which is what I address in part 3 (already written) is the exact evidence that I was using to support that it did make a difference. Whether you care about the difference, or think it's relevant, is up to you. :)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
No, the weirdness was in the world hopping (Oearth/Yrth/Earth, etc.), genre crossing (explicit rules for Boot Hill and GW, and encouragement to go to non-fantasy worlds in the core rule books), and in the modules (as previously recounted, this was common, from the EX series to the multiple worlds spinning off from Q1 to Amber etc.).

With respect, I don't think those examples amount to "primary" anything. TSR says, "We built several games on basically the same engine, and then present a way to convert them!" That's not a major design space, that's just what they call "eating your own dog food". That's less about doing cool weird stuff in D&D, and more trying to drive players to also buy your other games!

I also question whether this PMP-hopping wound up to be particularly major in play experience - while I admit we will never know for lack of any way to get data.

Let us assume, for the moment, that Gygax thought this would be a major element of play, that people would, in fact, get bored, and this would be called for to keep a campaign feeling fresh, and so thought of it as a "major design space". I am sorry, but he got it wrong. That setup is based on an assumption - that a DM would have a single campaign/campaign world that would persist for very long times. His world was persistent. And others in his circles. But in the wild, I don't think that's what we saw.

What we see in actual play is campaigns that typically last 18 months or less. If the group continued to play, they switched GMs, games, or worlds. I don't need world hopping when the next game will be in a whole new world anyway. What Gygax failed to see was that there was no need for world-hopping to keep things interesting, because the campaign was not particularly long-lasting.

I daresay that we could actually look at MotP as an adjustment to the reality. The MPM model wasn't really doing anyone a major service and it wasn't moving a whole lot of product, so they left it behind for things that might actually sell.

Plus, I'l be honest, the "fish out of water in another world" was already a cliched trope in the 70s. Mark Twain did it. HG Wells did it. It didn't really present a major untouched "design space", as it was done to death elsewhere.
 

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