Good fantasy settings have a flavor and feel all their own, something that sets them apart from all the others out there. The Planescape setting has its own style and tone, too – something to capture the imaginations of players as they explore this strange world. It speaks to them with a certain voice and sets the tone for the world.
The Planescape setting is about ideas and philosophies, about “the meaning of the multiverse”. It’s not the dry, academic lectures of musty old professors, quoting things that don’t much matter to the real world. A planar lives in a world where the meaning of the multiverse isn’t just a question, it’s a way of life. A planar doesn’t just ask the question, he lives the answer. This is a campaign where ideas are backed by actions and vice versa – swords, fists, magic, and ideology as needed. Count on it: Planars are tough because living philosophy ain’t for weaklings!
This is a world where the living mingle with the dead. A body can see the final reward or punishment because he can tour the place where he’ll be sent when he dies, and that knowledge affects his point of view. Planars know just what the rewards of mercy, goodness, terror, and treachery are. They’re tough because they know what happens if they’re weak.
The Planescape setting is a world where the abstract is real and potent. Priests don’t just pray for miracles from abstract gods, but from “real” powers that can possibly be seen or visited. Wizards inhale a multiverse of magic in a single breath, for they explore places that shouldn’t – couldn’t – exist by normal laws. Wealth-seekers have the chance to acquire treasures beyond imagining, for all things that can’t be imagined exist here. Planars are tough because they live in a world where raw power lies within their grasps.
The Planescape setting is cosmopolitan, too. Here is the place that fiends, devas, githyanki, and slaadi all claim as home. The “normal” lot – humans and their ilk – aren’t very often the rulers around here. They’re just more participants in the great game. Planars scoff at the provincial attitudes of primes, who are often surprised to find tanar’ri generals or githzerai sages at the next table, minding their own business. A planar grows up with the idea that anyone and anything can become powerful and important. The consequences? Planars are tough because their enemies are tougher.
All of this breeds a cynical worldliness. Planars have seen it all and survived most of it. Planars don’t expect much sympathy from others because everybody’s got a hard row to hoe. Good folks’ll band together and help each other, but crying over bad luck isn’t likely to get a body anywhere.
Planars think, act, even sound different from primes. Most notably, planars believe in the philosophies of their factions, which motivate many of their actions. The patois of the planes gives them a distinctive voice, and they use this jargon – called the Cant – with enthusiasm (which helps to further set them apart from primes).