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MC8 Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix (2e)
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MC8 Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix (2e)

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Welcome to the Monstrous Compendium volume that finally details the powerful creatures unique to the outer planes.

These denizens of the planes can be powerful allies or terrible enemies.

From aasimon to zoveri, and everything between, this supplement is a must have for any DM planning to run an adventure in the outer planes.

Product History

MC8: "Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix" (1991) is the eighth monster manual for AD&D 2e. It was published in January 1991.

Origins (I): Binders of Monsters. By the start of 1991, TSR had settled into the idea of publishing Monstrous Compendiums focused on specific settings. The Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Greyhawk, Kara-Tur, and Spelljammer had each gotten their turn.

But the "Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix" was something different. Rather than being based on a specific setting line, it instead featured monsters for use in the Great Wheel of any D&D setting. Mind you, this would soon become a setting of its own, with the release of the Planescape Campaign Setting (1994), but that was still more than three years down the road.

Apparently, the Outer Planes was a rich area for exploration, because the "Outer Planes Appendix" was one of the few 96-page Appendixes. The last had been MC4: "Monstrous Compendium Dragonlance Appendix" (1989), and there would be no more in the original Monstrous Compendium line.

Origins (II): The Mystery of the Missing Demons. The mystery of the missing demons begins with the disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III in 1979. Sensationalists incorrectly blamed D&D, creating a media frenzy. This publicity brought new popularity to game, allowing a string of Basic D&D sets (1977, 1981, 1983) to bring a surge of new, younger players into roleplaying. With so much new attention and so much new publicity, D&D got increasing amounts of bad publicity as well — including some bereaved but badly deluded parents who blamed D&D for their childrens' deaths. One of them, Patricia Pulling formed the most famous group, Bothered about Dungeons & Dragons or BADD (1983-1997); however, that was just one of several moral minority groups that spoke out against D&D in the '80s as the newest threat to youth.

This hostile environment is what led TSR to cut back on its more controversial elements with the release of AD&D 2e (1989). Most notably, that included the removal of demons, devils, daemons, demodands, and other similarly named creatures from the game.

But two years later, TSR was finally ready to bring them back. Sort of.

Exploring the Great Wheel. Because of its unique position, detailing the monsters of a setting without a line, the "Outer Planes Appendix" actually spends four pages detailing that setting, the Great Wheel. This includes a short description of each of the outer planes; surprisingly, TSR is still using their classic, non-mom-friendly names, including the "Seven Heavens", the "Twin Paradises", and the "Nine Hells".

However, there was one other major change to the setting: the introduction of something called the Blood War, fought between the demons and devils, though not under those names. This would be a major element of the Planescape campaign, which means that in some ways, it all began here.

Monsters of Note. The "Outer Planes Appendix" renames five major categories of creatures from D&D's past:

  • The aasimon was a new category to hold the devas, planetars, and solars, as well as the new warrior agathinon.
  • The baatezu used to be devils. Amusingly, TSR also had to rename some of the individual members of that race, such as the barbed devil (now the hamatula) and the bone devil (osyluth).
  • The gehreleth are perhaps the least known of the fiendish races. They were demodands, who are thought to have derived from the deodand of Jack Vance's The Dying Earth (1950), but more deMonic.
  • The tanar'ri are demons. This was the first publication that entirely replaced the demon's type numbers with their proper names — though the Monster Manual (1977) had previously listed both.
  • The yugoloth are daemons. Their bowdlerized name was the only one to stick in the long term, perhaps because "daemons" was so similar to "demons".

Though bowdlerization was certainly at the heart of TSR's decision to rename all their fiendish races, there was probably another goal: the creation of a D&D mythology. By getting away from the standard tropes about demons, devils, Greek daemons, and Vancian demodands, TSR could better create its own stories — ultimately building the foundation of the very successful Planescape line.

To further accommodate this large-scale myth-building, many other monsters appear in the "Outer Planes Appendix", including archons, animals lords, githyanki, githerzai, and slaad. It's a who's who of D&D's most popular outer plane races, with the notable absence of the modrons.

There is one other surprising cut: there are no archdevils or demon lords in the "Outer Planes Appendix". Their absence would be widely felt throughout the AD&D 2e era (1989-2000), with the best source actually being DMGR4: Monster Mythology (1992), which features a half-dozen of them as gods.

(There's no way that turning demons and devils into gods would make angry moms angrier.)

Whoops! A lot of the fiends have very high XP values in the "Outer Planes Appendix", with the 8,000 XP dretch, a 2 HD lesser tanar'ri, being a favorite punching bag. These XP values were decreased when these beasties were revamped for the Planescape Monstrous Compendiums (1994, 1995, 1998).

About the Creators. Unlike most of the Monstrous Compendiums, the "Outer Planes Appendix" was a very singular effort. It was designed entirely by J. Paul LaFountain and developed and edited by Timothy B. Brown.

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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File Last Updated:
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