Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition has almost reached the end of year 9, and with a refresh on the horizon we're getting our hands on the final adventure of the year, Planescape: Adventures In The Multiverse.
Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition has primarily focused on the Forgotten Realms, with slight dabbling into Eberron and the Magic the Gathering world of Strixhaven. Last year we did see exploration into Wild Space and the Etherial Plane in Spelljammer and Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel respectively, to Krynn through Dragonlance, and this year every Plane is on the table.
What is Planescape?
Planescape is the setting of the torus-shaped city of Sigil (with a hard G sound, like a fish gill), the surrounding Outlands, and the Gate Cities that collect the Outlands to the different planes of existence.
This collection comes as three books and a DM Screen, like the Spelljammer release, as opposed to a single book like Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk. I'm such a sucker for a special release and it's a nice welcome back for a setting that hasn't really gotten officially spotlighted since 2nd edition.
The three books are an Adventure Book, Turn of Fortune's Wheel, a Setting Book, Sigil and The Outlands, and a monster bestiary, Morte's Planar Parade.
That being said, the original idea of releasing Spelljammer in three books was so that the DM could keep track of their adventure, pull out stat blocks separately, and allow players access to material that's player-facing. Here there's not too much for the player.
What happened to player options?
In my reviews of Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk and Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants I commented on the minimal player options. While there are a few in Planescape - a handful of backgrounds and feats, and two new spells - there's still very little that a player-only D&D enjoyer would get out of these books.
The feats do begin to factor in some of what we know will come with the Dungeons & Dragons 5e refresh, namely feats with pre-requisites that allow you to not just create a character influenced by the planes, but increase the influence as they scale in power.
One very visible detriment to the Dungeons & Dragons 5e refresh that's set to come next year is that with so much mechanically changing there's likely little point publishing content now that is going to be revised or updated in ~6 months.
Unfortunately, that does mean we have a setting about the convergence of species from every plane and environmental effects that are warping the denizens and wildlife, and there's nothing new for a player to dig into.
I understand why the above is happening, but I would also be lying if I said I wasn't a bit disappointed.
Sigil and The Outlands
While there isn't much for a player, there's plenty for a DM to get stuck into.
Sigil and The Outlands, as the title suggests, digs into the ins and outs of the major locations of this setting. Namely Sigil the city built on the inside of a floating torus (donut) in the sky, the sixteen different Gate Towns that are situated around the edges of The Outlands like numbers of a clock, and The Outlands themselves.
The section for Sigil details out the rules for getting into and out of the city via magic, life and services in the city, The Lady of Pain who runs the city, each of the factions and what they represent, and key locations across the many wards.
This is all a lot more in-depth than I expected it to be. The portion of the book about factions reminded me a lot of the details you receive from Waterdeep's factions in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist.
The portions of Sigil that information is presented about are those that you'll find on the large map found in the back of Sigil and The Outlands. You'll find information on major locations like the Hall of Information in the Clerks' Ward, as well as some fun places for your players to spot on the map and want to head to like Fell's Tattoos.
Information on the Gate Towns is mostly the same. Each details local leaders, the look and location of the gate itself, and some key locations. Any specific districts, shops, and other local features the DM will have to create on their own, but a lot of the building blocks are there.
How each Gate affects its town
My favorite aspect of each of these Gate Towns is the Regional Effects. Each gate, and the plane that it connects to, has a direct effect on those living nearby.
Mechanus, the mechanical world that the Modrons hail from, has the Regional Effect of causing repetitive sounds to synchronize with one another. The party's footfalls will slowly line up as a blacksmith hammering and a bird singing will chime with the ticking of the gate.
Other fun effects are the Curst gate to Tarterian making creatures feel like they're dragging a ball and chain, slowing their speed by 5 feet, or Glorium that connects to the Heroic Domains of Ysgard where a horn goes off that can be heard for 300 feet whenever conflict begins.
This overview of Sigil, the Gate Towns, and The Outlands is the perfect amount for me. You've got building blocks for the society, and a showcase of how serious and unserious this place in the D&D multiverse is and then a DM is set free to run wild.
Turn of Fortune's Wheel - A Planescape Adventure
This adventure will take players from Level 3 to Level 10, letting them first visit Sigil to meet the proprietor of the Fortune's Wheel casino, before sending them off on a quest to gather missing information about a missing Modron and about themselves.
Turn of Fortune's Wheel is a really interesting adventure that doubles down on the idea of Multiverses not just as places you can visit, but as different possibilities throughout time.
The places that the party will visit are all incredibly unique and interesting in their own way while never overstaying their welcome. This will never feel like a slow-moving adventure as new wonders are right around the corner.
Turn of Fortune's Wheel is an adventure with one of the coolest premises I've heard of. The party, who are somehow glitches in the multiverse, are searching for the source of their own glitches over the course of the adventure.
Mechanically what being a glitch means is that each player will have three characters, if one happens to perish or something severe takes place instead of creating a new character one of their multiversal counterparts will show up. These differences could be as slight as differently colored hair, or as large as a class change.
In a world where it never feels like there's enough time to try out as much D&D is out there, let alone diving into indie and homebrew projects, working multiple characters into a single story where it actually fits is a really exciting concept.
On your adventure, you'll be visiting seven of the Gate Towns and recording information from their gates. I was worried that this process might get a bit repetitive but each town has a very unique small story.
Some towns might have you impress the locals to get access to the Gate, have a conflict that you need to resolve before you can reach the Gate, and my favorite Curst where Gate access is unrestricted… but it's not allowed to leave.
This adventure won't just stop at level 10 when the players solve their glitch. Instead solving their glitch will let the characters return to who they were before the adventure started. In this case, they'll be skyrocketed to level 17 for the final chapter of the book.
This fast-paced adventure sets up an early hook and delivers clear instructions for what the players need to do in their journey, but successfully keeps the world interesting as they visit the many locations.
Morte's Planar Parade - The unicorn transformed into what?
The bestiary, Morte's Planar Parade, contains all of the stat blocks you'll need across your adventure. The Outlands are a strange place so you'll be encountering all manner of strange creatures.
While the stat block for the Time Dragon and the Cranium Rat Squeakers (a trenchcoat filled with psychic rats) is interesting what's more interesting is the section on Planar Influences.
Creatures that come from, or reside near Gate Towns, can have the different Planes alter their biology. This comes in the flavor of Alignment changes as well as different traits.
Artwork from Morte's Planar Parade shows off a Unicorn with a massive curved horn complete with additional spikes that have been influenced by Gehenna. This unicorn could have also picked up the Vitality Theft trait allowing it to steal half of a creature's recovered HP if they heal themselves within 5 feet of the Unicorn.
These rules give you an idea of how the plane might affect any creature. For DMs, this means you can throw your favorite creatures, or creatures you already have minis for (work smart, not hard), into the campaign and make them setting-appropriate.
Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse Review | Final Thoughts
There is so so much in this collection that I love.
The fast-paced adventure, Turn of Fortune's Wheel, does exactly what I hoped Planescape would do. Turning so many of the 'rules' the world lives by on their head and playing with fun multiversal concepts will keep DM and players alike engaged in this adventure.
The fun twists and turns as they're revealed to the players will also keep the players excited and on their toes. When a region might have a demonic unicorn, or a land of roaring winds that deafen players within 1000 feet, they'll learn to not even guess what's coming next.
I am still disappointed in the lack of new player options, namely races or sub-classes, but as I stated above I do get why they're likely not being created.
Should I buy Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse?
There's a lot that Planescape has going for it. There's plenty of information on Sigil and the Outlands, the effects that the Gate Towns will have on the world around them, and the kinds of monsters you might encounter living on the edges of the Planes.
That being said what info you find here isn't your standard "drop it into your current campaign" kind of info. It's highly specific to Planescape, and an adventure that is taking place here, or if your adventure is coming through The Outlands.
If you're thinking that this adventure sounds like one you want to play/run then it's a huge yes from me. I've already told my current party that once we're done with our current campaign that this is what I plan to run next.
However, if you're not about to step through a portal to Sigil or any of the Gate Towns then there's not as much reason to own this resource on such a specific topic.
The copy of Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse used to produce this review was provided by the Publisher. All photos were taken by the reviewer over the course of the review.
- Incredible Adventure
- Plenty of regional resources
- Fun altered monster mechanics
- Player Options