Planescape was different than what came before: This exotic AD&D setting had its own very distinct tone, art, and lingo.
TSR published a series of campaign settings for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons in the 90s. Each pushed off in a new direction. Spelljammer sent players into space and to other worlds (and campaign settings). Dark Sun was grimdark. Birthright took the classic high-level domain play and made it the centerpiece of the campaign.
Planescape started from the original AD&D “Known Planes of Existence” cosmology and expanded on it considerably, while still remaining close to the original configuration of the Great Wheel.
The Outer Planes diagram from Deities & Demigods (1980)
The Planes in the early days of gaming were typically destinations for high-level badassery (Module Q1 – Queen of the Demonweb Pits comes to mind), variations on “defeat this planar foe on their own plane”.
Planescape opened up the planes for ALL levels of PCs – much as Night Below would do for the Underdark. Planescape adventuring groups had a home in Sigil, the central hub of everything, with portals to everywhere. The gods were barred from Sigil by the enigmatic and feared Lady of Pain, while factions vied for influence in the bizarre torus-shaped enclave.
Planescape became one of TSR’s more popular later game series, with several more box sets, a couple dozen accessories and adventure modules, a collectible card game and a legendary video game (Planescape: Torment is still popular today, over two decades later!).
See my RPG reference for more info on the Planescape RPG product line.
Planescape Campaign Setting [BOX SET]
1994 … David “Zeb” Cook & Robh Ruppel & Dana Knutson & Tony DiTerlizzi & Rob Lazzaretti (Illustrators) … TSR 2600 … ISBN 1560768347
CONTENTS: Player’s Guide to the Planes; DM Guide to the Planes; Sigil and Beyond; Monstrous Supplement; 4 poster-sized maps; DM screen.
These PS box sets are now collector items, with collector prices. DriveThruRPG has this set reproduced in PDF ($15 – as of this writing), Paperback reprint ($30), and Hardcover ($40)
The DTRPG page for Planescape also has some great behind-the-scenes history by Shannon Appelcline, including the origins of the setting and metaplot, and a discussion of the planar changes.
Sigil and Beyond (TSR 2600XXX1901, 96 pages)
Dana Knutson was the original concept artist (See also: Planescape Sketchbook). Robh Ruppel and Rob Lazzaretti also contribute. But it is surely Tony DiTerlizzi who is most associated with the Planescape “look”.
DM Guide to the Planes (TSR 2600XXX1902, 64 pages)
Player’s Guide to the Planes (TSR 2600XXX1903, 32 pages)
Unlike the first two books, the Player’s Book has color art.
Monstrous Supplement (uncoded, 32 pages)
Monsters, new and old, get detailed treatment in this Monstrous Compendium style booklet. Several pages are devoted to the quirky mechanical Modrons.
DM screen (TSR 2600XXX1401)
4-panel Dungeon Master Screen with the usual AD&D 2e combat tables, with some Planescape-specific charts.
All 4 poster maps are printed on both sides.
Map 1 The Outer Planes (with reference guide to the Planes and the Realms and Towns within them on reverse). 2600XXX0701. Note the Crystal Spheres, which come from Spelljammer.
Map 2 The Outlands (with B&W art of 4 of the planes on the reverse) 2600XXX0702.
Map 3 Sigil: City of Doors (with art of the city by Dana Knutson on the reverse). 2600XXX0703.
Map 4 Symbols of various factions (with Powers [deities] by Plane list on reverse) 2600XXX0704
RPGA Network promo sheet and TSR comment card
These were seen in TSR box sets throughout the 90s.