View Full Version : Planes: Manual or Handbook

2008-02-01, 03:54 PM
I have a campaign idea which I've been thinking about for a while. Central to the campaign as a battle between two planes, one being the material. Depending on player/character choices, the campaign could go interplanar at any time (or not at all), but there will be extraplanar enemies from the beginning. So my question is which of the following books should I get (first?) before starting this campaign:

The Manual of the Planes
The Planar Handbook

2008-02-01, 04:35 PM
Generally, (and IIRC), Manual of the Planes is more campaign/GM oriented, Planar Handbook more PC oriented. Basically, Manual fleshes out one specific Planar System (the Great Wheel), Handbook gives PCs nifty tricks and feats.

If you are designing your own setting, *without* any of the Great Wheel or standard planes, Manual may not be for you. On the other hand, it does have some good generic rules (for use in any multiverse), and cool equipment (and monsters). Myself, I like it more, but that's just me (and I'm really past the point of getting a thrill out of every new feat that comes out).

Also worth noting is that, as Manual is 'fluffier', (i.e., more focused on describing a setting), it will be much more useful than handbook should you convert to 4e (or any other system).

Iku Rex
2008-02-01, 04:43 PM
Keep in mind that Manual of the Planes is 3.0, while Planar Handbook is 3.5.

IIRC a lot of the material in MotP can be found in the 3.5 DMG/SRD (http://www.d20srd.org/indexes/planes.htm).

2008-02-01, 04:47 PM
It all depends on what you want out of the book. If you want the players to becomes changed and empowered by the Planes in the way of Classes, Equipment, and Feats, then use the Handbook. It also has a number of monsters , and even a few templates for easy planar monsters, from Positive and Negative energy monsters to Law and Chaos Templates. Those, together with the Celestial and Fiendish Templates in the MM should be enough to simulate a War of the Planes. Once the players go Interplanar, you can give them Feats and Spells to increase the Planar Aspect.

The Manual has more of the Placement of the stuff, you know, Fluff, whereas the Handbook has a lot of Crunch.

2008-02-04, 06:40 AM
I thought Manual of the Planes was a good supplement. It is 3.0 but the important bits are descriptive rather than crunchy, so it doesn't seem to matter as much as it does for the average splatbook. It describes the Great Wheel cosmology from the old Planescape supplements with few changes, but it also has good material on things to think about when designing your own planar cosmology, so it's of fairly general usefulness if you like that sort of thing.

I don't have the Handbook though, so I can't really help with the comparison.

2008-02-04, 07:50 AM
And if you're really interested in what goes on at the Great Wheel, I recommend these folks' 3.5 Planescape work here:


Magnor Criol
2008-02-04, 08:35 AM
As said, Manual is 3.0, but there's free-download update PDFs from WotC. Just get on their site and dig around in the downloads section, I think it was.

But also as said, much of the Manual is fluffstuff, so it's not terribly relevant which edition it is.

I personally like the Manual better, but TheLogman's got a very good point; with the templates provided in the Handbook, you'd be able to create creatures from all sorts of opposed planes to provide fodder for your war.

2008-02-04, 09:33 PM
If you are designing your own setting, *without* any of the Great Wheel or standard planes, Manual may not be for you.
Are you kidding? Manual of the Planes contains extensive advice on creating your own cosmology, with a bunch of example variant cosmologies and planes. Like what Deities and Demigods does for gods and pantheons, basically. And the most important parts of the descriptions of the Great Wheel's planes can be found in the DMG.

In a nutshell, Manual of the Planes deals mainly with the planes themselves, whether "the planes" be the default cosmology or a homebrew one. Planar Handbook mostly covers a bunch of options for planar characters. Although it does also provide a bunch of adventure sites that aren't largely stuff already in the DMG... Hmm. Plus it's 3.5.

I think I'd have to say I'd recommend MotP only if you want to create your own cosmology, or want as much detail as possible on the Great Wheel's planes.

You don't really need either of these books for a planar campaign, though.