Manual of the Planes

Manual of the Planes

The Manual of the Planes (abbreviated MoP[1]) is a manual for the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game. This text addresses the planar cosmology of the game universe.

The original book (for use with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1st Edition) was published in 1987 by TSR, Inc.[2] For 2nd Edition, concern over inclusion of angels and demons led TSR to forgo the release, though they compensated years later with the Planescape campaign setting. A third edition version of the Manual of the Planes was published in 2001 by Wizards of the Coast, while a new version for 4th Edition debuted in 2008.


Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition

Manual of the Planes  
AD&D Manual of the Planes.jpg

Manual of the Planes, 1st Edition
Author(s) Jeff Grubb
Genre(s) Role-playing game
Publisher TSR
Publication date 1987
Media type Print (Hardback)

The original Manual of the Planes was written by Jeff Grubb, with a cover by Jeff Easley and interior illustrations by Stephen Fabian, and was published by TSR in 1987 as a 128-page hardcover.[3] Easley's cover featured an illustration of a creature named in the book as an ethereal dreadnought, although the book had no description or game statistics for the creature.[4]

The book describes various planes of existence, and what creatures characters might encounter there, covering the astral and ethereal planes, the elemental places, and the outer planes.[3] The book also details how to survive in the planes, and how combat and magic differ under the plane's special conditions. The Ethereal Plane, The Inner Planes -- including the Plane of Elemental Air, the Plane of Elemental Fire, the Plane of Elemental Earth, and the Plane of Elemental Water, the Para-Elemental Planes (Smoke, Magma, Ooze, and Ice), the Energy Planes (Positive Energy and Negative Energy), and the Quasi-Elemental Planes (Lightning, Radiance, Minerals, Steam, Vacuum, Ash, Dust, and Salt) -- and the Astral Plane. After these planes, the Outer Planes are briefly described, including Nirvana, Arcadia, Seven Heavens, Twin Paradises, Elysium, Happy Hunting Grounds, Olympus, Gladsheim, Limbo, Pandemonium, The Abyss, Tarterus, Hades, Gehenna, The Nine Hells, Acheron, and Concordant Opposition. Manual of the Planes explains how each of the outer planes is related to each of the character alignments. For example, "The Seven Heavens" is the final resting place for characters of Lawful Good alignment.

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition

Manual of the Planes  
Manual planes v3 cover.jpg

Manual of the Planes for D&D version 3.
Genre(s) Role-playing game
Publisher Wizards of the Coast
Publication date 2001
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 224

After the typical introduction found in almost all guides of D&D 3rd. Edition, Manual of the Planes presents, in its first chapter, an overview of planes in general: what they are, what their nature is, and what is its function on gameplay. Info about how to shift between planes is also available on this chapter.

The second chapter presents hints on how to design your own cosmology of planes, based on the D&D official cosmology known as "The Great Wheel". Generating a personalized cosmology involves several options - for example, consider how magic works if basic planes that feed magic (such as the Ethereal or Astral planes) are disposed of.

The next chapters in the Manual are dedicated to detail the Great Wheel and the 27 planes that constitutes it.

The Inner Planes

Prime Material Plane: The center of the cosmology. It is an earth-like universe where the same laws of physics from the real world are applied. In the official D&D cosmology, Oerth, the planet described in the campaign material of Greyhawk, is present on this plane, but is only one world/planet out of an innumerable multitude of others set within the same prime material plane.

Astral Plane: The space in between the planes. It is mostly empty space and often serves the role of a "transport plane" through which planar travelers move from one plane to another. A few creatures inhabit this no-gravity place, however, such as the mysterious outsiders called githyanki and the astral dreadnoughts. An astral dreadnought is featured on the cover of the first edition Manual of the Planes.

Ethereal Plane: The place where ghosts and spirits dwell. It is coexistent with the Material Plane and looks like a misty version of it, with gray and nebulous landscapes. Spirits of restless dead inhabit this place, which makes it a bit more dangerous to pass through than the Astral.

Plane of Shadow: The place where darkness is born. As the Astral and the Ethereal, it is a plane used for travel; it connects one place in the Material with another through the numberless shadows within. But it is a dangerous place, even more than Astral and Ethereal, because it is not empty. Here, an entire sunless ecosystem dwells in the eternal darkness and shadow creatures born in the nightmares of mortals constantly strive to catch uncautious prey. If one is brave enough to descend deeper in the Plane of Shadow, it might be possible to find portals to alternative Material Planes - landscapes outside of the Great Wheel itself.

Elemental Plane of Air: The endless sky. It is one of the four elemental planes. An air-dominant place, this plane consists of endless airy space without floor or ceiling. Here the gravity is subjective, which means that creatures can "fly" by choosing the direction in which they "fall". It is home to air-elemental creatures and djinni.

Elemental Plane of Water: The bottomless ocean. It is one of the four elemental planes. A water-dominant place, this plane consists in an ocean with no bottom or surface. As in its air-dominant neighbor, this plane has subjective gravity where creatures choose the direction they want to "sink". Movement here is made through swimming. It's a relatively hospitable plane despite the fact that air-breathing beings might find it difficult to deal with. It is home to water-elemental creatures and marid.

Elemental Plane of Earth: The solid world. It is one of the four elemental planes. An earth-dominant place, this plane consists in an entire universe made of solid rock and soft earth, with a multitude of caverns, grottos and ore veins making its way through it. It's not a hostile place, but can be disturbing because of its claustrophobic nature. The large amount of mass of this solid place makes it a heavy-gravity plane. It is home to earth-elemental creatures and dao.

Elemental Plane of Fire: The torch of the universe. It is one of the four elemental planes. A fire-dominant place, this plane is an astonishing vista of fire, lava and pyroclastic gases. In a curious paradox, this is both the most hostile of the elemental planes and the most populated. That's because of the City of Brass, a marvelous town made of brass and magically protected against the abrasive nature of the plane. A trading metropolis, the City of Brass is home to the efreeti, a fire-loving race that loves intrigue and commercial business, and their city is always full of merchants and visitors. Besides the efreeti, the plane is home to fire-elemental creatures such as the salamander.

Positive Energy Plane: The wellspring of life. It is one of the two energy planes. This place is a source of creation, heat and life force, the energy that constitutes the Big Bang. However, it's a deadly place to travelers; once there mortal visitors are quickly suffused with pure energy which makes them literally explode. It is home to the energon beings known as xag-ya, a race made of positive energy.

Negative Energy Plane: The source of entropy. It is one of the two energy planes. This place is a vacuum of destruction, cold and entropic force. It is as deadly as its brighter brother; visitors here are drained of all life and reduced to ashes almost instantly. It is home to the energon beings known as xeg-yi, a race made of negative energy. A few undead find their way into this plane, making it even more dangerous.

The Outer Planes

The Outer Planes are treated in a separate section because their nature is very different from the other ten planes. The seventeen Outer Planes are places of beauty beyond imagination or unspeakable horror. They are worlds created and inhabited by gods and goddesses, as well as outsiders of a multitude of races: Aasimon, guardinals, eladrins, archons, yugoloths, demons, devils, and others. These planes are also home to the souls of valorous mortals, who deserved a place among the gods in the afterlife. Each outer plane embodies an aspect of the nine alignments of D&D rules, in a stronger or weaker sense. The Outer Planes are, in general, hospitable to planar travelers that journey there to trade, explore or even meet the deities in person.

Outer Planes
Celestia Bytopia Elysium Beastlands Arborea
Arcadia ↑Good↑ Ysgard
Mechanus ←Lawful Outlands Chaotic→ Limbo
Acheron ↓Evil↓ Pandemonium
Baator Gehenna Hades Carceri Abyss

Outlands: This is a True Neutral plane, ruled by deities of this alignment, notably Obad-Hai. It contains many things such as a library, and a portal to multiple dimensions. However, the plane is less than friendly to any of non-neutral alignment.

Seven Mounting Heavens of Celestia: The ultimate paradise. Also known as "Mount Celestia", "The Seven Heavens" or simply "Celestia", this is a strongly Lawful Good plane. It consists of a silver lake in the center of which is an incredibly high mountain, so beautiful that tears blind one's eyes once one looks at it. Mount Celestia is divided in seven plateaus, inhabited by brave heroes and kind deities that run an endless struggle against the forces of evil. Each plateau is a different demiplane that demands spiritual evolution be reached, until a pure state of mind is found in the seventh heaven.

Blessed Fields of Elysium: The land of the good. This is a strongly Neutral Good plane, whose inhabitants are as kind as the celestians, but are more inclined to a peaceful life than to fight against evil. Elysium is a wonderful garden, and also the offspring of the great river Oceanus, whose waters run through the celestial planes. An eternity of joy and peace in a beautiful landscape is what the newcomers find in Elysium.

Olympian Glades of Arborea: The kingdom of the elven lords. Also known as "Arvandor" (despite the fact that this is the name of just a small part of Arborea), this is a strongly Chaotic Good plane, a sunlit forest where the spirits of brave elven heroes and the Seldarine (the elven pantheon) dwell. The plane's alignment reflects the kind and free nature of the elves. Their cousins, the sea elves, live in a nearby ocean, along with their deity, Deep Sashelas.

Nine Hells of Baator: The infernal realm of lawful evil. Also known as "The Pit" or simply "Hell", Baator is home to a race of foul creatures known as baatezu. However, most people call them simply "devils". Formed by nine descending layers, it is the opposite of Celestia, and it is the gathering point for the forces of lawful evil. The ruler of Baator and supreme general of its malevolent hellish armies is Asmodeus, a mysterious being who might ultimately be a corrupted being of primordial law. Strangely, due to the strongly Lawful Evil nature of the plane, the baatezu are (relatively) honorable creatures, despite their malevolence.

Gray Waste of Hades: The birthplace and focus of raw evil. Hades is a colorless plane, a bleak and arid land where everything is gray except the blood that spills from the wounds of dying soldiers. The three layers, or Glooms, of the plane often serve as a battlefield for the Blood War, an endless conflict between the baatezu and the demonic race of the tanar'ri, who inhabit the plane known as "The Abyss". Baatezu and tanar´ri hate each other with incomparable fury, and the conflict between them has lasted for eons and shows no sign of an end. Another infernal race, the Yugoloths, are the native fiends of the Waste, sharing the strongly Neutral Evil nature of the plane, and the Wasting Tower of Khin-Oin on the first layer of the plane is an omnipresent reminder of their domination of the Waste. Other inhabitants of Hades are the Gray Sisters, powerful night hags that keep a safe distance from the battlefields.

Infinite Layers of the Abyss: The bottomless hole of infinite horror. The Abyss is a chaotic and violent place inhabited by a chaotic and violent race called tanar'ri, or simply "demons". They exist in all forms and sizes, as endless as the plane they call home. The tanar´ri hate everything: the good deities, the evil deities, the mortals, the immortals and even themselves. But above all, they hate the baatezu, their long-endured rivals in the Blood War. The Abyss is inhabited also by an amazing number of evil deities that dwell in the infinite layers of this dizzying place. The deities despise and hate the tanar´ri, but the demons are numerous and a force to be feared. The Abyss, like its inhabitants, is strongly Chaotic Evil.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition

Manual of the Planes  
Author(s) Richard Baker, John Rogers, Robert J. Schwalb, and James Wyatt
Genre(s) Role-playing game
Publisher Wizards of the Coast
Publication date 2008
Media type Print (Hardback)

The 4th Edition Manual of the Planes reinvented the cosmology into a streamlined arrangement called, the World Axis cosmology.[5] It consists of five core types of planes.

  • 1. The Mortal World.
  • 2. The Parallel Planes - Two planes that are linked to the Mortal World.
    • Feywild (Plane of Faerie).
    • Shadowfell (Plane of Shadow).
  • 3. Fundamental Planes - Two planes that surround the Mortal World.
    • The Astral Sea - The plane above. Consists of Astral Dominions.
    • The Elemental Chaos - The plane below. Consists of Elemental Realms.
  • 4. Demiplanes - Unique bubbles of existence such as Sigil.
  • 5. Anomalous Planes - Planes of an obscure nature.
    • The Far Realm - Uncharted plane that exists beyond the known cosmology.
    • The Plane of Dreams - Composed of all the dreams that have ever been dreamt.


  1. ^ "Dungeons & Dragons FAQ". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on April 6, 2010. Retrieved October 3, 2008. 
  2. ^ Grubb, Jeff (1987). Manual of the Planes. TSR, Inc. ISBN 0-88038-399-2. 
  3. ^ a b Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. p. 106. ISBN 0-87975-653-5. 
  4. ^ Grubb, Jeff. Manual of the Planes (TSR, 1987)
  5. ^ Baker, Richard, John Rogers, Robert J. Schwalb, and James Wyatt. Manual of the Planes (Wizards of the Coast, December 2008)

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