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Dungeon & Dragons: Manual of the Planes, Roleplaying Game Supplement Hardcover – December 16, 2008

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Dungeon & Dragons: Manual of the Planes, Roleplaying Game Supplement + The Plane Above: Secrets of the Astral Sea: A 4th Edition D&D Supplement + The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos: A 4th Edition D&D Supplement
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Wizards of the Coast; 4th edition (December 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786950021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786950027
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Manual of the Planes 4th Edition is a must have for DMs!
Overall, I'd say the usefulness of this book will depend on the GM using it -- and it is a book for GMs, with little that's of interest to players.
Scott Schimmel
Maybe it's because the previous 3rd E books had so much detail that I have a hard time liking this book in that light.
Admiral Ackbar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Scott Schimmel on December 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Manual of the Planes discusses the other planes of the Dungeons & Dragons world -- the areas of reality beyond the mortal world. Its goal is to allow for adventures set among these other realms -- primarily, the Shadowfell, the Feywild, the Elemental Chaos, and the Astral Sea. It mainly succeeds.

The first chapter of the book, Exploring the Planes, deals mainly with traveling to the planes and the characteristics of the planes. It includes a description of the basic cosmology of the D&D world, some advice for creating alternate cosmologies if you should desire to, and some notes about Sigil, the City of Doors, a location which can be used as a center for planar adventures (among other things).

Those who've played Planescape in earlier editions will recognize Sigil, and it's only one of many references to previous editions of the game. Veterans will notice new treatments of such things as the City of Brass, the Isle of Dread, the Demonweb, the Blood War, and spelljammers. Newer players need not worry; the book sets these elements adequately within 4e, so that no previous experience with them is necessary.

The next four chapters deal with the major planes suitable for adventuring: The Feywild, domain of faerie and preternatural wilderness; the Shadowfell, decayed echo of the mortal world shrouded in gloom; the Elemental Chaos, home to such locations as the City of Brass and the Abyss; and the Astral Sea, in which the domains of the great powers float like islands. Each of these chapters has four sections: traveling to the plane, exploring the plane, sample inhabitants of the plane, and sample locations within the plane.

The writeups about the inhabitants and locations are fairly brief.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Admiral Ackbar on February 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Manuals of the Planes have traditionally been a way to try to explain the celestial universe of D&D. If that is what WotC was attempting to do with this latest version of the planes, then the book could be considered a success. Personally though, I just don't like this book.

After reading it, I've come to the conclusion that the writers and editors had three goals. Each one they hit the nail on the head.

1) It's meant to update the basic mechanics of the planes to 4th edition. Introduce a couple new powers, new definitions of how planes fuctions, the basic mechanics of traveling to the planes. It does that. It doesn't do it too deeply, but it gets the basics of the basics explained for 4th E.

2) It appears, from my reading this book and the new Forgotten Realms book, (Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, 4th Edition) That WotC has made an editorial decision that 4th E. settings should focus more on atmosphere and flavor than background and setting. There's a lot of descriptions of what places are like. Just enough details to give a sense of flavor. But compared to previous books, especially 3rd E, there is much less content and background. This new manual has only half the content of the previous manual. Manual of the Planes (Dungeon & Dragons d20 3.0 Fantasy Roleplaying) There can be an argument made for this editorial change. But to me it feels like there's been a major subtraction on the quality of the new book. It is more accessible, but much much less useful. I think that actually hurts a beginner.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Christopher J. Arthur on January 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recently finished my first pass through this book. Typically when I purchase a D&D resource I read through and pay close attention to the things I already expect and read anything interesting sounding that I come across. I ended up reading quite a bit in this book in the first pass, probably 85%.

Since 4th Edition was released I've been worried about game flavor in the books and the fact that in the 3 core rulebooks its seems to be mostly missing. Now that I've begun to read the further expansion books I realize that this was likely a design decision rather than a mistake. The Manual of the Planes is a very well organized and presented book and the writing is interesting. Each major plane has its own section and most of the things you need to know about are presented. Places like Sigil and the City of Brass are first class citizens of this book, and they are presented as bonafide destinations where parties may stay a bit and adventure.

Going in to this book I was worried that the D&D I knew and loved was falling away. After this book and the adventures they've released my worry has been replaced by excitement and interest. I find that I can't wait for the next adventure and I pre-ordered Open Grave.

If you've been worried about 4th Edition just pick up the adventures or this book. Well heck, get both. They'll remind you what it was you loved about D&D and make you think maybe 4th Edition will be just fine.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
So, back in the day before the death of AD&D 2nd edition and Wizards of the Coast swallowing up the faltering TSR, there was Planescape. One of the best campaign settings ever created for D&D. Planescape took place in the realms of Deities, Demigods, Devils, and Demons. What made the world different was the unique feel of planar culture, the hodge podge of settings (allowing you to play almost anything imaginable), and the focus on factional beliefs. Planescape had too many things that were wonderful about it to list here, and somewhere in cyberspace there is a site dedicated to keeping this setting alive and thriving. Go to [...] and you'll enjoy even new 4e rules for Planescape. Now all of that said, Manual of the Planes is NOT Planescape. Rules heavy, story light, the Manual of the Planes has info on various planar locations, rules for planar encounters, and even various hazards that can be found there. What the book doesn't have is heart. I feel no connection to this book, and in my own games have only used it for the various incidental rules that are only mildy more useful than something I could make up myself. This book is useful for 4e players wanting to explore the planes, but don't look for depth here, just rules.
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