Thursday, November 10, 2011
We didn't do a lot of plane hopping in my old AD&D campaigns. I do recall a few visits to the Nine Hells and the Abyss and I suspect the characters did so by means of the Astral Plane on at least one occasion, but, if so, these trips weren't particularly memorable. Ultimately, that's the main problem with "The Astral Plane" -- even with all the clever rules modifications that Moore came up with, the place is still deadly dull. That's not Moore's fault, because he was trying to work within the parameters laid down by AD&D up till that point and those parameters paint a rather uninspiring picture. Sure, the Githyanki hang out on the Astral Plane, but, other than that, what else makes this place cool? Why would anyone want to go there for any length of time? "The Astral Plane" doesn't answer that question and nothing in the AD&D books at the time provided a better answer.
That said, I did like the fact that Moore postulates that other planes will operate according to different laws than those of the Prime Material. That's something I strong advocate and think is essential to the feeling of "We're not in Kansas anymore" other planes should evoke. I also think, as was true in Queen of the Demonweb Pits, that "The Astral Plane" goes overboard in the level of specificity about how character abilities, spells, and magic items operate differently, but that's a criticism of implementation not of concept. So, in retrospect, I still like this article a great deal, even if I wouldn't use it as written in any game I am running now. It's still a great idea mine and a useful foundation for an approach to handling weird otherworlds in your D&D campaign.