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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

DrivethruRPG Planescape - Planes of Chaos

You can buy this right here.

DrivethruRPG has been slowly rolling out new print versions of old D&D products. I always keep my eyes peeled for Planescape stuff. It's been painfully slow going, so far.

I saw that they actually took one of the old Planescape boxed sets and put it all in one giant book! I was very intrigued. Those old sets come with 5-6 booklets and around 6 poster maps.Would they include the maps? Would the page numbering be all weird?

I ordered it on Thursday, and it got here today (Tuesday). Very fast!

The boxed set is called Planes of Chaos. It details the chaotic-aligned planes like the Abyss, Limbo, Pandemonium, stuff like that. Way back when, I was a kid with very little money. I went to the store one day with enough cash to buy either Planes of Chaos, Planes of Conflict, or Planes of Law. I didn't even blink. I bought Planes of Law. I've always loved the idea of using lawful good entities as the antagonists. Traditional evil villains are boring to me.

I did eventually get Planes of Chaos, and it is very good.

So, how is it in book form? It's awesome. If you have any interest in this at all, buy it! It's $20! The original price of the boxed set was $30, if I remember correctly.

This book is huge! Bigger than the 5e PH!
One of my favorite things about these old Planescape books is that they're loaded with art. Tons and tons of DiTerlizzi stuff. It's mind-boggling.

A few months ago, I bought another DriveThruRPG Planescape book - Faces of Sigil. I didn't like the spine on that one. It just didn't look right. The spine on this one looks perfectly fine. It's got the Planescape font and everything.

I love this thing, but there are nits to pick. Again, this is the easiest thumbs up ever, but this book is not perfect. There's a few things to point out.

Border: These are made from scans of books. The original books had no border. For some reason, there's a white margin/border around most of the pages. Why? It looks crappy.

Contrast: The page scans are inconsistent. Some pages have very dark text, while others have very light text. I think this would have had to been fixed in the initial scanning phase. You can fix this in photoshop, but going page by page would be very tedious.

It's very noticeable, though. Some of the art is too faint. You can fix it in about 20 seconds in photoshop, so it's a bit of a bummer. As an example, here's one of the ones that are too dark/black:

Page Spreads: They put the poster maps on two-page spreads, which I found to be a pleasant surprise. But.. Because of the binding, the middle of the map is hard to see without tearing your book in half.

I don't really know what else they could have done, though. It must be expensive to print poster maps..? I would have been happy if they made poster maps of just the useful game stuff and stuck the black and white city art in the book, but I assume printing poster maps would make this much more expensive.

It is weird seeing a booklet back cover in the book.

Those poster maps came folded up in the original boxed set, so a scan will have creases. They did a pretty good job removing the crease lines, but some are still quite visible. This is another thing you can clear up in photoshop with the clone tool in about 5 minutes.

Surprise: For some reason, there's a Mystara hex map in the back of the book.

Mistake? It looks like they had a few pages to fill. Too bad they couldn't have put some cool obscure Planescape thing in there to fill up the space. Concept art, notes from the authors, old Planescape articles from Dragon Magazine, that kind of thing. They could have put that Monte Cook "Infernal Fortresses" article in here, as that directly expands on the Abyss material.


Aside from some ultimately minor presentation issues, this thing is awesome. The 5e DMG doesn't have a lot of info on the planes! This gives you a TON of material to use, complete with a big pile of adventure scenarios. There's a lot of new monsters, too. Really great book! Definitely check it out.


Aaron Griffin said...

Oh that's crazy, they put the whole boxed set in a book? What other boxed sets are around?

Anonymous said...

Are there any missing maps in this printed version? I believe the Planes of Chaos PDF is missing the Abyss poster map and has the Mystara map instead.

Peter V. Dell'Orto said...

That Mystara map is the one from X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield - it came with a counter mix and wargame rules. That's just weird.

Sean said...

Aaron Griffith: I think that's the only Planescape box released in book form so far. I hope they do more! I bet the original Planescape boxed set in book form would be hugely popular.

Anonymous: I think this is missing the Abyss Map! It looks like they just took that pdf and plopped it into this book.

Peter: Ha! I've never read that one, I hear a lot of people say it's a great adventure.

Aaron Griffin said...

I own all the boxed sets, in various states of disarray and duct taping. I would buy the full books for all of them.