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D&D 5E Planescape to languish in purgatory?

Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
I'm not sure what you would want from a 5e planescape. You've got almost everything you need mechanically and the 2e setting material is easily available.
Except for the Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix I, II and III, none of which are available on DMs Guild, for reasons that I can only guess at.
 

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twofalls

DM Beadle
Out of curiosity - what do you want to see in an official 5E Planescape? Stats for the NPCs? Specific setting monsters? Repeating the lore of old or updating it to move it forward in time?
You know, now that I've made this post and have been reading and thinking on this (the OP was an impulse) I realize that I probably wouldn't like a more modern version of the classic settings. I'm a social conservative and am allergic to the dominant woke culture that WotC has wholeheartedly embraced. I'm not inviting nor will I engage in a political conversation here, people believe what they believe and have every right to do so, but I've stopped purchasing the newer books over it. Now I have to ask myself why I'm wanting them to revamp the old settings in view of their new philosophy, and the truth is I'd rather just play the old settings themselves.
 

That's the thing, isn't it? The recent survey data indicated that 40% of D&D players are 25 and younger. They just don't have the nostalgia that older people do for old settings. Planescape was released in 1994, whereas Theros was 2013. A 25-year old wasn't even born then, but would've been a teenager when Theros came out - to them, that's their nostalgia.

I've talked to younger players and while some might be curious about older settings, they don't always have the same touchstones as older players do. In my one gaming group I talked about Expedition to the Barrier Peaks and absolutely no one knew anything about it.

Now, I think there's absolutely the case that there's room to bring these classic settings back to D&D, to make them relevant for new generations. I'd certainly love it, and love for the old settings and lore is threaded throughout 5e. But like you, said, there are easier wins and low-hanging fruit in newer settings.

Now - this board is almost entirely dudes in their 40s and 50s for whom publishing 5E versions of Planescape, Dragonlance, Greyhawk, etc looks like a no brainer and Magic: The Gathering and Exandria look like shallow cash grabs. That's a very biased assessment, however. Not just because the Ravnica, Theros, and Exandria books are all quite good (which they are) but because from a certain Gen X point of view - which is not the point of view of the D&D fanbase writ large - Planescape is this huge deal that everyone is clamoring for.
 

I'd probably only want Planescape and Council of Wyrms. You all can have everything else.

In regards to MtG settings books: Throne of Eldraine. Heck just do it as a Plane Shift article for a new Plane Shift 2021 supplemental line of lite settings, like they did before, and I'll be happy with that.
 

A back door is possible, something like the 3.5 planar handbook.

Now I wonder about the petitioners from the infernal planes to run away toward the gatetwons.

The faction war is possible, but Sigil would be neutral zone, totally neutral by order of the Lady of the Pain

I guess we will see future sourcebook about monsters, one about dragons, other about undeads, maybe something like Fiendix Codex (I&II) for fans of Eternal Doom and grimm fantasy, and other about not-only infernal outsiders (planetouched races, petitioners, planar dragons and other creatures).
 


Einlanzer0

Explorer
I think Spelljammer is long overdue for an update compared to Planescape, and I also think it would capture on the 80s future-retro craze that has dominated pop culture for the last few years.
 

I think the problem with Planescape is that while it's cool flavor and I love the setting, it's not the easiest setting to run. It's got three problems.

First, the factions don't work that well. They're basically defined by alignment, philosophy, and (often) an associated plane. There's tons of room for political intrigue, but since it's basically all based on alignment and philosophy it's like the most stock and uninteresting political intrigue ever. These factions don't appear to have goals. They just have beliefs and philosophies. Worse, they often feel like they just overlap. Xaositects, Anarchists, and the Cabal are like three different brands of the same flavor ice cream. There's like four factions that are just variations on nihilism. It's cool from 10,000 feet, but on the ground it just paints everyone with a fixed set of predefined stock beliefs that don't really lead to interesting characters. Yes, there's the faction war, but since factions are what people know about the setting it's really bizarre to suggest moving forward with a totally different set. It'd be a totally unrecognizable setting to the majority of players familiar with the original setting or the video game.

Second, the mode of travel to more interesting places than Sigil, or even more interesting places within Sigil, is portals. Sigil is like the World Serpent Inn expanded to the scope of a city. The World Serpent Inn was a fun contrivance for a few campaigns when you didn't want to bother with a narrative to connect the adventures, but it's difficult to construct a consistent feeling world when the world itself isn't consistent. The problem with portals is that you often end up just being pushed around by the plot from place to place. You lose your sense of location in the world and easily feel railroaded.

Third, the Lady of Pain is... not a good character for a campaign setting. Like she's the absolute authority that you can't do anything about. What am I supposed to do with this character as a DM? She's a combination deus ex machina and tarrasque rolled into one. Again, it's cool idea from a lore or narrative perspective, but I don't see how it serves the playability of the campaign setting to have the place run by Judge Dredd or Ultraman. Yeah, she's supposed to stay out of the way, but if that's the case why is she there? To explain why nobody has taken over Sigil? And if she's supposed to stay out of the way, why's she always getting involved with the PCs? It's just weird.
 


I'd also add a fourth problem, one shared by Spelljammer. Both benefited from an expansive product line (20-30 products apiece). That's sort of sprawling product line isn't really 5e's business model, and both settings become a little less when there isn't somewhere for you to go.

I think the problem with Planescape is that while it's cool flavor and I love the setting, it's not the easiest setting to run. It's got three problems.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I think updating the setting (as well as others) would go over quite well with the playerbase. Nowadays you don't need a box set and endless supplements, they could do a single hardcover to go over the factions, the planes, the setting tropes, and a monstrous compendium. That's all you'd need to play in it much like people are happy to play in Ravnica or Eberron with only a single book (technically 2 for Eberron, but no one cares about Wayfarer's Guide).
 

MarkB

Legend
If there is a Planescape Torment enchaded edition there are possibilities of a sequel, at least because it's a powerful brand, it's very origintal when today there are too many generic fantasy videogames.
So, you're hoping for the Planescape campaign setting to be revitalised on the strength of Planescape Torment, which you are in turn hoping to see revitalised on the strength of the Planescape campaign setting.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
I prefer new things personally, rather than recycling old stuff over and over again.

Also see: Hollywood. And the television.

That's a massive false equivalence. For one, TV and moves are passive entertainment, so there's not really a huge driver to update them outside of making more money. For two, you could equate seasons of a single TV show to multiple editions of a campaign setting.

The reality is people invest in campaign settings, and they practically benefit from periodic updates to keep them aligned with more modern rulesets so players can use them without creating a ton of work and/or cognitive dissonance.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
That's a massive false equivalence. For one, TV and moves are passive entertainment, so there's not really a huge driver to update them outside of making more money. For two, you could equate seasons of a single TV show to multiple editions of a campaign setting.

The reality is people invest in campaign settings, and they practically benefit from periodic updates to keep them aligned with more modern rulesets so players can use them without creating a ton of work and/or cognitive dissonance.
No, I still prefer new stuff.
 

This bring me to a tangential but related point: the problem with producing new editions of old classics is that it may be tricky to get the right tone, and if you get the right tone for the classic feel, is it the right tone for now? For instance, how to A) Capture the original feeling of Gygax's Greyhawk (without Gary) and B) make it feel relevant and fresh in today's context? Would it resonate with younger players?
Get Luke or Rob to write it, since they can probably bring back most of Gygax's vision. The tone of the setting should be a low magic swords & sorcery style, but I'm aware that style is passe. I think the primary selling point would be "see where it all began," which is the exact same selling point they had for the folio and boxed set. I can't really see it being as successful as their setting books so far.

IMO if they want to explore Greyhawk, they should simply create an AP or two for it. Ghosts of Saltmarsh wasn't bad, but only 3 of the adventures were originally from Greyhawk. I could see an updated version of the Temple of Elemental Evil as an AP, as it's heavily rooted in the Greyhawk setting. Part of the problem with doing APs with Greyhawk is that the classic stuff would need a higher starting level than 1, and WotC is loathe to do that. If they did, the Queen of Spiders would be amazing as a high level AP (I did this as part of my 1st 5E campaign), and the Slave Lords series could be expanded into a mid-level AP.
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
Wait, haven’t we just had a campaign set in Avernus? I thought that had a fairly Planescape like feeling. I will certainly be inserting a few mercy-killers and the rule of three into the re-run
 

Mercurius

Legend
I prefer new things personally, rather than recycling old stuff over and over again.

Also see: Hollywood. And the television.
I'll echo this. If given a choice, I'd rather see a new franchise or world created. In film, I'd rather seem take on a new property (even if a book) than yet another remake. There are so many great books out there just waiting for film treatment. While a lot would be lost in translation, I'd love to see a well-made Earthsea (Le Guin) or Riddle-Master (McKillip) or Morgaine (Cherryh) or Revelation Space (Reynolds) or Culture (Banks) series or film(s). On that note, I'm looking forward to the Wheel of Time series.

I tend more towards old than new school, but I'm glad to see the Magic settings. That said, I'd also like to see a deluxe Greyhawk box and a re-working of Planescape. Given the approach WotC is taking with 4-5 books per year, it doesn't have to be all or nothing.
 

Tyler Do'Urden

Soap Maker
Yes, there's the faction war, but since factions are what people know about the setting it's really bizarre to suggest moving forward with a totally different set. It'd be a totally unrecognizable setting to the majority of players familiar with the original setting or the video game.

They already did this... it's called Ravnica. :)
 

Tyler Do'Urden

Soap Maker
I'd also add a fourth problem, one shared by Spelljammer. Both benefited from an expansive product line (20-30 products apiece). That's sort of sprawling product line isn't really 5e's business model, and both settings become a little less when there isn't somewhere for you to go.

Well, given that it's 2020 there's a really easy fix to that problem - the DMs Guild. The books could do a better job tying in DMs Guild content though, and making new content accessible (for instance, elsewhere I theorized about a Mystara revival as the "Airship" setting - the core book could include a page on every region, and refer to the existing gazetteer for details - which is already up on DMs Guild. Then modules could be plugged in as "missions" approved by a committee in charge of the setting. It would be possible to go even further and just tie things to setting Wikis as well.

We have better ways of doing things today - why aren't we using them to their fullest extent?
 

Quickleaf

Legend
If there is another thread that discusses this which anyone knows of, I'd be grateful for a link.

There are a lot of treasured past tense D&D campaign worlds that are being (as far as I am able to see) ignored by WotC. They have come out with several other settings, Ravnica, Wildermont, Theros, and even updated others (Eberron) but the settings we remember and love atrophy. Certainly we can take the 2e lore and import it into the 5e ruleset, but wouldn't it be wonderful to have 5e material in these universes? I thought that perhaps someone in the community here might have an inside view, or just a generally more educated understanding on these old settings (Planescape, Hollow World, Darksun, Spelljammer, Greyhawk, etc) and the plans for them in WotC, if any? Why invent new settings when the old ones are so beloved and playable if updated?

I titled the thread Planescape only because it was my favorite next to FR.
I used to DM Planescape a lot when I ran 2e, had a 3-4 year long Planescape campaign, read Pages of Pain, was a contributor to some articles on Mimir.net and Planewalker.com (like the Bytopia Planar Renovation Project & Gehenna Planar Renovation Project), played Planescape: Torment probably too much, and started a Planescape 5e conversion thread here on ENWorld. Love the setting.

However, it wasn't without problems. One of the big ones was that there was a lot of high concept stuff that sounded good on paper, but it turned out to be paper-thin when it came to game-able details. Another was that the adventures often involved a significant amount of railroading. Basically, the setting was great about being vague and evocative, promising great ideas (shifting gatetowns to new planes? angels and fiends rubbing shoulders? cool!), but really falling short on following through on those when it came to specifics a DM could use at his or her table.

When I read through the Avernus chapters of Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus, when you got beyond the Mad Max vehicle stuff, much of the locations and NPCs felt inspired by Planescape themes. That encounter with Jandar Sunstar (sp?) felt like a parallel to the Pillar of Skulls in Planescape: Torment. The art & concept of the hag Mad Maggie (?) and her minions felt torn from Diterlizzi's head. And the multiple endings, including the possibility of redeeming the main villain, was pure Planescape. Once you're beyond the rather linear Dead Three dungeon and leaving aside the Mad Max influences, Avernus as it's depicted in that new hardcover adventure really feels like a homage to Planescape to me.

Don't get me wrong – I'd love to see a full-blown Planescape setting done for 5e – but I think the designers were very astute in recognizing some of the flaws in how Planescape was originally presented, and instead designing an adventure with imminently useful stuff based in the design ethos of Planescape.
 

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