Z4 3

Planar Compass (2020)

The folks behind the Planar Compass deserve some big applause. This is the first issue (and its player companion), from 2020. It cunningly marries aspects of Spelljammer with Planescape to create something new and exciting and purple hued for Old-School Essentials, and it did it all two years before Wizards of the Coast thought to do something similar for 5E. Bully for them.

Beyond providing an indie-vibed alternative for corporate products, Planar Compass is pretty great on its own merits. This volume details the strange island of Dreamhaven in the Astral Sea, a place noted, of course, for its tavern. There are lots of NPCs, a handful of small adventures and explorations to take part in, and one central mystery that can potential change the island’s entire paradigm. It’s a well-populated sandbox.

It seems rather friendly, too. There’s danger, sure, that just comes naturally with D&Dish material, but there’s also a coziness. I find this to be true of all the Planar Compass material I’ve read. I tend to be a bit skeptical of pairing D&D with sentiments outside of mercenary murderhoboing, but Dreamhaven almost immediately conveys a home-iness that demands to be preserved. Characters are going to like it there, and they’re going to want to visit it again. There’s something about it (similar vibe to Orbital, actually, which I posted about back in April). Of course, that makes the stakes ultra-high, if, say, there were a way to accidentally blow up the whole island.

The zine also provides a lot of new mechanical material for OSE, new races, new classes and a whole psionic system, which I believe is a first. Subsequent volumes have significantly expanded on this, making Planar Compass one of the more substantial OSE settings.

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