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A Players Primer to the Outlands (2e)
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A Players Primer to the Outlands (2e)

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You've never seen a skull like this one, cutter - it's made of a silvery metal, with rainbow hues cascading over its shiny surface. Local bashers call it a mimir. Toss it into the air, and ask it questions: What is Ecstasy? Do fiends patrol the Outlands? The floating skull slicks softly, scouring its enchanted vaults for the answers. Then its bone-box opens, drivens by ancient pistons, and it begins to speak....

A PLANESCAPE accessory for player characters of all levels, the Player's Primer provides a look at the Outlands, which surround the great city of Sigil - the gateway to all the Outer Planes. In this box, a cutter'll find: An audio compact disc that represents the mimir, a new magical item offering a strange and thrilling tour of the Outlands.

Product History

"A Player's Primer to the Outlands" (1995), by Jeff Grubb, is a player-oriented setting book for Planescape that details the Outlands. It was published in May 1995.

Continuing the Planescape Series. The Planescape setting was sufficiently innovative that books the described the setting for players had always been a priority. Previous players books could be found in Planescape Campaign Setting (1994), Planes of Chaos (1994), and Planes of Law (1995). However, "A Player's Primer to the Outlands" was something new: a standalone player's book, published without any accompanying material for the GM.

Compact Details. "A Player's Primer to the Outlands" was labeled as an "Audio CD Accessory". This was a line of products that had begun with First Quest (1994), an introductory D&D box that featured a Compact Disc (CD) took GMs through a first role-playing session and also included soundtracks for two of the supplement's adventures. The idea had then been used extensively in the AD&D Mystara line (1994-1995). However, there were also two non-Mystaran "Audio CD Accessories", both published around May 1995: one was "A Light in the Belfry" (1995) for Ravenloft and the other was "A Player's Primer to the Outlands" for Planescape. The "Audio CD" line would then end with the Mystaran Mark of Amber (1995) in June.

The CD in "A Player's Primer to the Outlands" imagines itself as a "mimir" — a metallic skull that answers questions about the planes (with each of these answers available on a separate CD track). A somewhat different mimir would appear a few years later in the Planescape: Torment (1999) computer game.

Expanding Planescape. While the three Planes boxed sets (1994-1995) focused on the 16 spokes of the Great Wheel, this Primer instead detailed the hub: the Outlands that surround the spire and the city of Sigil.

The Outlands did not appear in Gary Gygax's earliest conceptions of the planes — in Dragon #8 (July 1977) and in the AD&D Player's Handbook (1978). Instead, the Inner Planes were literally placed within the Outer Planes in those early models — which clarifies the names somewhat. The Outlands finally appeared in Deities & Demigods (1980) as the new center of the Outer Planes; at that time it was called the plane of concordant opposition.

Even after it appeared, concordant opposition got little attention prior to the release of the Planescape Campaign Setting (1994). That's when concordant opposition became the Outlands, and when the spire and Sigil appeared at its center. The plane finally got 28 pages of detail in the Planescape Campaign Setting, including a look at seven of its gate-towns: Automata, Bedlam, Curst, Glorium, Plague-Mort, Ribcage, and Xaos. Two adventures then focused on gate-towns falling into their connected planes: "Recruiters" in Well of Worlds (1994) talks about Plague-Mort sliding into the Abyss, while "Fires of Dis" (1995) focuses on Fortitude sliding into Arcadia.

"A Player's Primer to the Outlands" has about the same amount of space that the Planescape Campaign Setting did, but it nonetheless manages to provide details on all 16 gate-towns, revealing half of them for the first time ever.

Future History. "A Player's Primer to the Outlands" is a nice companion to In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil (1995), which was published immediately afterward.

About the Creators. Grubb was the author of the original Manual of the Planes (1987) and had played around with the idea of a 2e planar setting prior to David Cook writing the Planescape Campaign Setting (1994). However, this was his first new contribution to the setting. In 1995, Grubb was also writing for the Forgotten Realms, Mystara, and Ravenloft settings; they'd be his last books for TSR, though he'd return to Wizards of the Coast in 1998.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Reviews (6)
Discussions (2)
Customer avatar
michael K August 20, 2015 2:46 pm UTC
Apparently Wizards has the cdrom files available for download:
https://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.asp?x=dnd/dx20010914a
Customer avatar
James B October 22, 2014 3:14 am UTC
Missing poster map (and audio CD) as of July 16, 2014. (Don't expect to see the CD, but the poster would be nice!)
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Product Information
Author(s)
Rule System(s)
Pages
32
Edition
1.0
Publisher Stock #
TSR 2610
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9.51 MB
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File Last Updated:
February 10, 2014
This title was added to our catalog on February 11, 2014.