David "Zeb" Cook


TSR, Inc.
Wizards of the Coast

Publication date





Dungeons & Dragons

Planescape is a campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, originally designed by Zeb Cook.[1] The Planescape setting was published in 1994.[2] As its name suggests, the setting crosses and comprises the numerous planes of existence, encompassing an entire cosmology called the Great Wheel, as originally developed in the Manual of the Planes by Jeff Grubb. This includes many of the other Dungeons & Dragons worlds, linking them via inter-dimensional magical portals. The setting crossed Victorian era trappings with a pseudo-steampunk design and attitude.

Planescape won acclaim on its unique visual aspects, products of artist Tony DiTerlizzi, Robh Ruppel, and Dana Knutson, winning a 1994 Origins Award.[3] Pyramid magazine reviewer Scott Haring said Planescape is "the finest game world ever produced for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Period."[1] Haring described the writing as "wonderful", also saying that it "has got one of the most distinctive graphic looks I've seen in any game product" and that the "unusual drawings remind [him] a little of Dr. Seuss".[1]


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An artistic representation of the grand design of the Planes.

The Dungeons & Dragons cosmology as reflected in Planescape consists of a number of planes, which can be divided into the following regions:[1]


Sigil the "City of Doors", is located atop the Spire in the Outlands. It has the shape of a torus; the city itself is located on the inner surface of the ring. There is no sky, simply an all-pervasive light that waxes and wanes to create day and night. Sigil cannot be entered or exited save via portals; although this makes it quite safe from any would-be invader, it also makes it a prison of sorts for those not possessing a portal key. Thus, many call Sigil "The Bird Cage" or "The Cage". Though Sigil is commonly held to be located "at the center of the planes" (where it is positioned atop the infinitely tall Spire), some argue that this is impossible since the planes are infinite in all dimensions, and therefore there can never truly be a center to any of them, let alone all of them; thus, Sigil is of no special importance. Curiously, from the Outlands, one can see Sigil atop the supposedly infinite Spire.


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A view of the Spire and Sigil from Outlands.

Main article: Faction (Planescape)

The Factions are the philosophically-derived power groups based in Sigil. Before the Faction War, the factions controlled the political climate of the city. Each of the factions is based on one particular belief system; many of the factions' beliefs make them enemies where their other goals and actions might have made them allies. Most factions are organized into covert cells for their own protection. There are fifteen factions in total.

The Faction War

In 1998, TSR published Faction War, an adventure that effectively closed the book on Planescape as it was then ending the product line. The culmination of several adventures leading up to that point, the Faction War brought an end to the factions' control of the city. Instigated by the power-hungry Duke Rowan Darkwood, factol of the Fated, in a bid to dethrone the Lady and rule Sigil himself, the war spread throughout the city before the Lady of Pain, with the aid of a group of adventurers (the players' characters), intervened.


Sects are in many ways identical to the Factions, differing in that they are not based in Sigil. Sects are often highly specific to the particular planes they originate from, though historically many of the Factions were once Sects and some Sects were once Factions. A complete list of Sects is probably not possible due the infinite multitudes of the Planes.


There are three principles (or heuristics) governing the world of Planescape: the Rule-of-Threes, the Unity of Rings, and the Center of the Multiverse.[4]


The first principle, the Rule-of-Three, says simply that things tend to happen in threes.[5] The principles which govern the planes are themselves subject to this rule.

Unity of Rings

The second principle is the Unity of Rings, and notes that many things on the planes are circular, coming back around to where they started. This is true geographically as well as philosophically.

Center of All

The third principle (fitting evenly into the Rule-of-Three above) is the Center of All, and states that there is a center of everything — or, rather, wherever a person happens to be is the center of the multiverse... from their own perspective, at least. As most planes are functionally infinite, disproving anyone's centricity would be impossible. In Planescape, this is meant philosophically just as much as it is meant in terms of multiversal geography.


Planescape is an expansion of ideas presented in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide (First Edition) and the original Manual of the Planes. When Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition was published, a decision was made not to include angelic or demonic creatures, and so the cosmology was largely ignored, being replaced (to a certain degree) by the Spelljammer setting. However, fan demand for a 2nd Edition Manual of the Planes was strong enough to justify its expansion into a full-fledged campaign setting, and so in 1994 Planescape was released.

Published material

The campaign setting was followed by a series of expansions detailing the Planes of Chaos (by Wolfgang Baur and Lester Smith), the Planes of Law (by Colin McComb and Wolfgang Baur), and the Planes of Conflict (by Colin McComb and Dale Donovan).

Other expansions and adventures followed, and the setting has since been updated in the 3rd Edition Manual of the Planes, the 3.5 Edition Dungeon Master's Guide, and the Planar Handbook in 2004. Similar material has surfaced in 4th Edition rulebooks, as the 2nd Dungeon Master Guide includes a section on Sigil. No Planescape materials are currently in print.

The series had a small number of novels. The novels were not generally well received.

In 1995, Planescape won the Origins Award for Best Graphic Presentation of a Roleplaying Game, Adventure, or Supplement of 1994.

Boxed sets

  • 2600 Planescape Campaign Setting
  • 2603 Planes of Chaos
  • 2607 Planes of Law
  • 2615 Planes of Conflict
  • 2621 Hellbound: The Blood War
  • 2610 A Player’s Primer to the Outlands


  • Planescape Conspectus
  • 2609 In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil
  • 2611 The Factol’s Manifesto
  • 2620 The Planeswalker’s Handbook
  • 2623 On Hallowed Ground
  • 2624 Uncaged: Faces of Sigil
  • 2625 A Guide to the Astral Plane
  • 2633 A Guide to the Ethereal Plane
  • 2634 The Inner Planes
  • 2630 Faces of Evil: The Fiends
  • 2602 Monstrous Compendium Appendix
  • 2613 Monstrous Compendium Appendix II
  • 2635 Monstrous Compendium Appendix III
  • The Planescape Sketchbook


  • 2601 The Eternal Boundary
  • 2604 Well of Worlds
  • 2605 In the Abyss
  • 2606 The Deva Spark
  • 2608 Fires of Dis
  • 2614 Harbinger House
  • 2619 Something Wild
  • 2626 Doors to the Unknown
  • 2628 The Great Modron March
  • 2629 Faction War
  • 2631 Dead Gods
  • 2632 Tales From the Infinite Staircase

The setting was featured in the computer game Planescape: Torment, which portrayed the Planescape world (specifically Sigil, the Outlands, Baator, Carceri, and the Negative Energy Plane). It is now a cult game[6] and was out of print until its DVD re-release as a budget title in 2009[7]. Planescape: Torment is available via the PC game service GameTap.

TSR also published a Planescape tradeable card game, the Blood Wars.


Blood Wars Trilogy

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Scott Haring; Andrew Hartsock (August 1994). "Pyramid Pick: Planescape". Pyramid (Steve Jackson Games) #8. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  2. "The History of TSR". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2008-10-04. Retrieved 2005-08-20. 
  3. "1994 Origins Award for Best Graphic Presentation of a Roleplaying Game, Adventure, or Supplement of 1994". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. 
  4. "Planescape: Torment glossary". 
  5. "Planescape:Torment - The Glossary". Retrieved 2007-10-02. 
  6. "Escapist Magazine reviews cult status of Planescape: Torment". 
  7. "Plane Scape Torment (PC DVD): PC & Video Games". 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Kenson, Stephen (March 1999). "Profiles: J. Robert King". Dragon (Renton, Washington: Wizards of the Coast) (#257): 120. 

External links