Tales of the Outer Planes (1988)

Tales of the Outer Planes (1988) is an anthology of adventures meant to support the Manual of the Planes. Despite an amazing Jeff Easley cover painting of a troop of githyanki emerging from astral mists, the book is an unfortunate snoozefest. Planescape it ain’t!

There is hardly any art inside and what there is doesn’t stoke the imagination (there aren’t even many maps). The tableau look mundane. Which fits the adventures! There are eleven short adventures (this is not a strong TSR format — every short adventure anthology I can think of is formatted similarly and is ultimately forgettable). I don’t want to sound like a nitpicker but…only four of the shorties take place on the actual Outer Planes. The rest are scattered throughout the Inner Planes, the Ethereal and the Astral. Which is fine! But they don’t really showcase those locales, they’re just stage dressing for typical D&D adventures.

Once we get to the Outer Planes…well. I only like one of these, “An Element of Chaos” which feels suitably outré, as a Slaadi lord is stuck corrupting a Celestial citadel with its chaotic powers. This sort of clash is exactly the sort of stuff Planescape would later be built on, and it is kind of delicious to see it here, years earlier, in a sort of proto-form. Shame the rest aren’t interested in anything so ambiguous.

The book is rounded out by a bunch of lairs in the style of the Book of Lairs. Most of these are as flat as the rest of the book. One even requires Battlesystem. Whyyyyyyy? I do like the weird symbiosis of berbalang and basilisk presented in one, but that also feels under-developed.

At least we got that cover, I guess.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *