If you played Dungeons & Dragons in the ’90s and early 2000s, the word Planescape likely stirs some strong memories inside you. For me, a player just barely into my teens among several much more experienced TTRPG fans, it was like a whole new game had been released inside this game I didn’t get to play nearly enough. The concept of a multiverse has existed in some form across short stories, novels, comic books, television and movies for almost a hundred years. But if you were to ask many of the creators of multiverse stories today where they found inspiration, there’s a good chance Planescape would be one of the top answers.
In its continued highly successful efforts to modernize some of what is now considered classic D&D, Wizards of the Coast has breathed new life into Planescape with a new campaign collection called Adventures in the Multiverse. After spending two weeks and one slightly rushed campaign in these new books, I feel it’s important to warn would-be owners of this collection: If you buy these books, they will consume what remains of your free time for quite a while.
Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse is a three-book collection in a box set complete with a DM screen, with a fairly standard $59 set or the $85 limited edition upgrade. Each set includes a ton of artwork by an incredible group of artists, as well as cover art by Tony DiTerlizzi, one of the original artists in the first release of Planescape.
The three books are broken out in a familiar fashion. Sigil and The Outlands explores the lore and physical spaces Planescape happens in; Morte’s Planar Parade offers in-depth looks at all of the creatures, monsters and characters you need to know; and Turn of Fortune’s Wheel is an adventure you can play within this setting. You need all three books to DM a Planescape game, but if you’re a player interested in learning or just staring at all of the very pretty pictures without story spoilers, the first two books in this series are a great read.
It’s important to understand Planescape is, by design, a massive addition to the core world Dungeons & Dragons is built upon. You can use these books to add a little taste of the multiverse to an existing game, or you can play entirely in this world. In very much the same way the multiverse is described in recent Marvel films as being infinitely complex with an unlimited number of possibilities, Planescape is a wildly impressive set of tools you can use to expand the way you either play or DM. If you’re not sure what that would even look like, the Turn of Fortune’s Wheel adventure is a spectacular way to wrap your head around these concepts.
Without spoiling anything in this adventure, Turn of Fortune’s Wheel quickly introduces players not only to the planar city Sigil, but a ton of the concepts that make Planescape special. This is a world where it’s not uncommon for creatures you’ve never even heard of to step through a portal and start up a friendly conversation, but it’s also possible for you to meet an alternate version of your character who maybe doesn’t agree with the way you’re doing things. This story takes players from level 3 all the way to 17, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen players react to the twists in this adventure like this in any D&D game I’ve run. It’s a blast. I honestly cannot wait to DM this adventure again.
Just because the concept of a multiverse is now a lot easier for most folks to wrap their heads around, don’t expect to play a Planescape game without doing quite a bit more work than you normally would ahead of a game. Sigil is weird, dangerous in ways a lot of players can’t imagine and sometimes kind of gross. If you’re not careful, new players could quickly become overwhelmed with how different Planescape adventures are from an average D&D story. You won’t use every single thing you read in Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse in a single campaign, or even the five after that. If you choose to add this set to your arsenal as a DM or as a player, you’re going to be finding clever ways to add these concepts to your games for a very long time to come.