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Planes of Law (2e)

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The Planes of Law are home to the baatezu, one of the most powerful and terrifying of all monster races!

This new campaign expansion provides all the information necessary for player characters to experience five never-before-explored planes. More than 200 pages detail the lawful-aligned planes of Mount Celestia, Baator, Acheron, Mechanus, and Arcadia, showing the Dungeon Master how to work them into his or her campaign and how to create adventures for players. Deluxe full-color maps and a MONSTROUS COMPENDIUM booklet complete this boxed set.

Product History

Planes of Law (1995), by Wolfgang Baur and Colin McComb, is the second of a trilogy of supplements describing the outer planes of the Planescape Campaign Setting. It was published in February 1995.

Continuing the Planescape Series. By 1995, Planescape's core publishing categories had been revealed, including adventures, a Monstrous Compendium, and a single setting expansion. Now, as Planescape entered its second year, TSR was focusing once more on setting. The previous year's Planes of Chaos (1994) was followed by Planes of Law (1995) in February, then Planes of Conflict (1995) in December; together, they would extensively detail all of Planescape's outer planes.

Though it was a continuation of the series, Planes of Law was organized quite differently from its predecessor. Planes of Chaos had been arranged by content type, including a player's book, a GM's book, an adventure book, and a monster book. Planes of Law was instead organized around its planes. Following a single player's book and a monster book, each of the five planes of law then got its own book — which included an overview, notes on the plane's inhabitants, a geographical tour, and some short adventures. There's a full set of poster-sized maps too.

Based on reviews at the time, the new format was quite successful.

Expanding Planescape. Planes of Law notably expands another five outer planes that had been with D&D since Gary Gygax first laid out his vision of the planes in The Dragon #8 (July 1977).

Acheron, named after the river of woe from Greek mythology, was one of the least-loved outer planes prior to the publication of Planescape. It'd received a one-page description in Manual of the Planes (1987), and that was it. Even Planes of Law calls it "one of the hinterlands". Planes of Law gives more details on all four layers (Avalas, Thuldanin, Tintibulus, and Ocanthus)of Archeron including numerous sites, towns, and realms. It's primarily depicted as a land of warfare.

Arcadia is another name that originated in Greek mythology; it's best known thanks to Virgil and the later paintings of Nicolas Poussin, who imagined it as a pastoral utopia. Like Acheron, Arcadia was never a particularly interesting place for adventuring —a general problem for the Lawful Good planes like Arcadia, Bytopia, and Mount Celestia. Nonetheless, Planes of Law details both of Arcadia's layers (Abellio and Buxenus) and gives particular attention to the dwarven deities, including Clangeddin Silverbeard — one of Roger Moore's creations from Dragon #58 (February 1982).

Baator is the land that had been called the Nine Hells prior to the release of AD&D 2e (1989), based of course on the Hells from Dante's Divine Comedy (1300s). Although the Abyss was the home to the first great outer planes adventures, the Nine Hells received the first great setting articles. That started with Alexander Van Thorn's unofficial "The Politics of Hell" in The Dragon #28 (August 1979). However it was Ed Greenwood who really broke the hellgates with his massive tour of "The Nine Hells" which appeared in Dragon #76 (August 1983) and Dragon #77 (September 1983), and which he then returned to in Dragon #91 (November 1984). Greenwood's first two articles are considered among the best of Dragon's first decade, because they didn't just detail the Nine Hells, but also more generally revealed how an outer plane could be a source of adventure. When Jeff Grubb wrote Manual of the Planes (1987) he referenced Greenwood's writing, which means that the description of Baator found in Planes of Law continues to derive from Greenwood's foundational articles. The first Hellish adventure, "To Hell and Back", appeared a short time later in OP1: "Tales of the Outer Planes" (1988).

As you'd expect, Planes of Law touches upon all nine layers while giving attention to both devils (baatezu) and their lords. The question of whether Takhisis (of Dragonlance) and Tiamat are the same god is also addressed for one of the first times.

Mechanus had been called Nirvana when Gary Gygax first imagined it as a "plane of ultimate Law". It was still going by that name in Jeff Grubb's Manual of the Planes (1987), but he described a void filled with "huge interlocking wheels, like the internal cogs of an ornately carved clock". This led to Nirvana's reimagination as Mechanus with the release of the Planescape Campaign Setting (1994). The source of this change was the modrons, who had been invented in Monster Manual II (1983) by Francois Marcela-Froideval and Jeff Grubb. These orderly, organized creatures then created the basis for an orderly, clockwork world. Planes of Law continues to expand the idea of a clockwork nirvana, though it details just a few of its "infinite gears".

Mount Celestia was originally called the Seven Heavens, but was yet another victim of the bowdlerization of D&D's cosmology in the second edition (1989). The plane was based on the Nine Heavens found in Dante's Divine Comedy (1300s). As with so many of the lawful planes, the Seven Heavens got little attention in its early days, other than the adventure "An Element of Chaos" in OP1: Tales of the Outer Planes (1988). All seven heavens get detailed in Planes of Law. There are also some details on the archons, the race of celestials who exclusively dwell on Mount Celestia.

Future History. Unsurprisingly the most interesting Lawful realms — Baator and Mechanus — got the most attention later in Planescape's lifetime. Baator was visited in the adventure "Fires of Dis" (1995), while two later references touched upon it: Hellbound: The Blood War (1996) and Faces of Evil: The Fiends (1997). Even after the Planescape line wound down "A Paladin in Hell" (1998) and "Guide to Hell" (1999) returned to the Realm. Meanwhile, the modrons of Mechanus got a lot of attention in The Great Modron March (1997), one of Planescape's most memorable adventures.

About the Creators. Baur had previously been the coauthor of Planes of Chaos (1994), while McComb had authored Well of Worlds (1994), so both authors were experienced in Planescape lore when they came together to write Planes of Law.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Reviews (5)
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Reviews
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January 4th, 2015
The scan are great except for the monstrous compendium. They are absolutely horrible. Could you please do proper scan of that book? [...]
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October 6th, 2006
I've been a Modron fan, since I say Nordom in the Planescape: Torment computer game, so I quite enjoyed learning more about mechanus. Then, there was the detail on Baator and other lawful planes: good stuff. LIKED: Yeah! Detail on Modr [...]
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June 9th, 2006
Not essential for Planescape games unless you are a DM intending to run games in these planes. Plenty of information on Mount Celestia, Arcadia, Mechanus, Acheron and Baator, their inhabitants and sites. Also, of course, the superb illustrations. [...]
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February 6th, 2005
Much better organized than the other two sets in this series (appropriately enough). Planes of Law details the five lawful planes, with the usual intense focus on the Lower. Enough additional detail is given on each plane to make four of them suitable [...]
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November 13th, 2004
The Planes of Law box set covers the Outer Planes that are lawfully aligned: Mount Celestia, Mechanus, Arcadia, Baator, and Acheron. Each plane is detailed in a separate booklet, and each booklet contains three adventures (for low, medium, and high level [...]
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