I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it. I might sound like a shill this month, but I'm genuinely not trying to. It's just that this month, my favorite book of all comes out: Manual of the Planes.
In 3rd Edition, I used this book more than any other, except the Player's Handbook. I used it more than my DMG, more than my Monster Manual. That's right. I dipped into Manual of the Planes more than two of the three core books. That's no knock on those fine books -- it's just that I found more inspiration, more great ideas, and more adventure potential in Manual of the Planes than anywhere else.
You see, for me, there's just nothing more intriguing than the possibility of worlds beyond our own. It's one of the things that sets D&D apart from other fantasy properties, to me. Sure, lots of fantasy novels and other RPGs have utilized the idea that there are multiple worlds out there, each crazier than the one before. But D&D took that concept and dialed it up so high, we broke the knob.
Back in the 2E days, we did it with Planescape, proposing infinite planes, each infinitely large. In 3E we made that cosmology the core. And then in 4th Edition, we took that concept and refined it. Rather than infinite planes, we have just five (well, six if you include the Far Realm), but each one of those—and especially the Astral Sea and the Elemental Chaos—has as much, if not more, adventure potential than before.
Anything is possible out there in the planes. Anything!
I remember one instance in particular. My PCs were running through a dungeon of yuan-ti cultists, and I wanted to make one of their worship rooms more memorable. I decided it needed a giant pool in the middle, which had a connection to the Elemental Plane of Water (in 4th Edition terms, a connection to a region of water in the Elemental Chaos). As the PCs entered the room, they had to deal with yuan-ti abominations on the shore, water-walking yuan-ti archers darting across the pool, water weirds that attacked when the PCs drew near the water or tried to get at the archers, and best of all, gouts of super-heated steam that would geyser up occasionally to douse the heroes. Good times, all around.
Using planar concepts and implementing them has never been easier. One of the goals of 4th Edition was to make the planes more accessible at all levels of play. That’s one of the reasons we have several recurring features in Dragon devoted to the planes. The Demonomicon of Iggwilv will continue to feature prominently in the magazine, as will the Codex of Betrayal. This month, we’re introducing Lords of Chaos, which will detail new primordials, beginning with Mual-tar the Thunder Serpent. And coming soon, we’ll bring you the Court of Stars series, which will detail new archfey.
So yes, I'm excited. I plan to spend some quality time with the Manual of the Planes in the coming weeks. But what about you? What's your favorite supplement of all time, in any edition? And what's your favorite extraplanar adventure story? Send us your favorites at firstname.lastname@example.org. And send us your submissions for new articles in our planar series to email@example.com.