The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Mongoose Press's book on the planes

Over a decade after UK D&D third-party author Mongoose Press rolled out its take on the planes of existence, I've finally bought a copy.

This was when the "d20 System" licence was still a thing. When Wizards of the Coast took over TSR, among their innovations for the third edition was to open up the rules content. So, in the 2000s, anyone could do D&D. They just had to demarcate what was common to everyone, and what was still under copyright; and they couldn't slap their own copyright onto something TSR / WotC had already made open. So a lot of third-party stuff got released. Most of it was crap, in complete fulfillment of Sturgeon's Revelation.

When Mongoose Press put this out, I leafed through it. Superficially, I noted too much effort to agree with the hoary TSR Great Wheel cosmology; which at the time I had decided was boring and which I have since rejected. Worst was a plane "Chasm" delivered here with no acknowledgement of Paul Jaquays' same plane in the Master's Set module Talons of Night. I rated the Mongoose book "crap" and left it alone, on the shelf at Third Planet Comics and Games in Houston. It was still on the shelf last week. In the meantime I picked up Malhavoc Press's books instead.

But last week, not having anything else to read, other than Islamic studies, I picked it up again.

Yes, Chasm was a twat move; we can add Dunmorgause to that, although at least this time Mervyn Peake got credited. Yes, there's no point to yet another organised fantasy Infernum, nor to the Inner Planes being simply taken over. (The Inner Planes, unfortunately, were d20 open-content, being common stock in Western and Near-Eastern speculation dating from the Hellenistic Era.) And yes, the slips into Lovecraftian or Dunsanian language insisted upon themselves: rugose, fields we know.

Still, Mongoose put in some effort to squeeze in as much original material as it could within its self-imposed constraints. Mâl is as advertised, an entirely new outer plane, if a small one. Tarrasein chaos-plane is a riff off the old-school Limbo but Mongoose presented it better than we'd seen up to 2004. Also several locations within "inner planes" may be treated as separate planes in conjunction with similar planes - like the Living City, here within the Positive Energy Plane, but not really (+7 Positive where the main plane is +9).

On that topic, for those as wish to cook up one's own plane, this book has charts (for Traits) and guidance. We've just touched on the Positive Trait. Although, there, it overlapped too much with Life.

I liked the Gravity Trait best, where - if -10 - the very gravitational constant is not just negative, it is so repulsive that it counteracts Electromagnetism. Things don't just "fall apart" here, they fly apart! One somewhat wonders if such a plane will also cause Time to travel backward... but then, not all planes need be Einsteinian.

Having read it closer, and admittedly a little biased for not wanting to admit being suckered, I'll rate it a "B". Worth the $35 in today's currency. Maybe not in 2004's.

posted by Zimri on 08:10 | link | 0 comments

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