A walk with Monte & Tony through Planescape: The Planewalker's Handbook
Today, I’m going to take a look at the artwork from the Planescape: The Planewalker’s Handbook supplement.
Written by the newly sainted gaming genius Monte Cook, this 159 page book details a great deal of incredible little things concerning the planes as they appear in the Planescape Campaign Setting, but to me the artwork is always the most fun.
With a cover done by Robh Ruppel the book starts off with a bang. Robh’s style is strong, and his muted colors blend well with the darkness of the setting. In this particular piece he draws on his inner M.C. Escher to create some incredible stairs while threatening a wary warrior in the process. Truly, a great way to begin an adventure in the planes!
Inside, the pages are absolutely filled with Tony DiTerlizzi’s incredible inks and subtle colors. He has absolutely hit his stride by this point and knows the setting better than anyone. Once, when I ran my first campaign in Planescape I took all my books to a Kinkos and made copies of a ton of artwork, then cut it all out, made a collage, and would hand it to players as needed to show details of the setting. THAT is the power of DiTerlizzi within. In fact, I still have them all, tucked away in my main Planescape box, and I’d really like to do another campaign here, which I will be in 2015 during me and my high school buddies ‘Gaming Week’.
There is also some incredible color plates done by Alan Pollack, Sam Rekeland, and Ned Dameron, all of which are more than worthy to be included. One in particular, done by Pollack, reminds me of one of my favorite stories from my DMing days of the setting. I’ve included it for reference, a shot of the beastlands, and I’m reminded of a female player, Kelli, who had a couple of wine coolers before the game [always a bad idea to drink and game!] and proceeded to start calling ‘here kitty, kitty, kitty!’ to one of the panther animal guardians that lay basking in a tower of sunlight amid the tangled trees. Her character was buried among those trees, and I hope she rested in peace.
Cartography for this particular book is done by David Sutherland III, and he does an inspired job with it, each piece both unique and fun. I love Sutherland’s maps, and am always happy to see them. I know his ‘journey’ at TSR was never what he wanted it to be, but at least he continued to contribute beautiful images to the game and he is certainly missed.
In all, I highly recommend this supplement for anyone looking to play the setting, especially those who like to get a great visual before describing it to their players.
Artistic Rating: 4.5 [out of 5]