The Rule of Threes



Version 0.8.0

Last update: 2005-May-12

GURPS is a trademark of Steve Jackson Games. No challenge to that trademark is expressed or implied. This site is not endorsed in any way by Steve Jackson Games.

AD&D and (probably) Planescape are trademarks of TSR, Inc., or whoever owns them this month. No challenge is expressed or implied, blah blah blah. This site is not endorsed in any way by TSR, Inc., Wizards of the Coast, Hasbro, Microsoft, or any other past, present, or future purchaser of TSR, Inc.



  • Introduction

    • General Introduction to GURPS Planescape
    • About the Conversion
    • Background Assumptions
    • Handy References
    • What's New
  • Miscellaneous Rules

    • Psionics
    • Saving Throws
  • Characters

    • Creation
    • Advantages and Disadvantages
    • Alignment, or Lack Thereof
    • Primes, Planars, and Petitioners
    • Races
    • Factions
    • Conversion Notes
  • Magic

    • System Options
    • College Correspondences
    • Effects of Planes on Magic
    • Magic Items
  • Planes

    • General Notes
    • Alignment, or Lack Thereof
    • Specific Planes
  • Bestiary

    • General Conversion Suggestions
    • Specific Creatures
  • Links

    • Portals, Conduits, Gates, and Planar Pathways to other Planescape and assorted relevant Planescape information on the web.



Planescape is a campaign setting that was published by TSR (and later Wizards of the Coast) for 2nd edition AD&D between 1994 and 1999. In my opinion Planescape is a fascinating setting full of great adventuring potential. It describes the multiverse of the Inner and Outer Planes; this setting includes not just one world, but a multitude of infinte planes, each of which are different in character and frequently in the very laws of physics. There's more to Planescape than grandeur of scale and variety of setting, although already that makes it a great setting with much opportunity for adventure. There's also a unique tone and feel to the Planescape setting. It's certainly not just "yet another" high fantasy setting for a hack & slash game. Nor is it even "just another" more mature fantasy setting for the sort of medieval intrigue and roleplay you'd expect. Certainly there can be combat, and there is most definitely opportunity for roleplaying and intrigue. What makes Planescape different from more traditional medieval fantasy worlds is that in the planes, philosophy becomes tangible. Although brute force has its place, and is still effective, ideas are paramount, and convincing others to share your philosophy and ideals can change the very geography of the planes.

Notice that so far I've spoken only of the Planescape setting, and it should be clear by now that I'm fond of it. Unfortunately, I'm not quite as fond of the AD&D rules system (at least, as of the 1st and 2nd editions). If you are, more power to you; go play Planescape the way it was originally written. You don't need GURPS Planescape. I, however, do. I don't even own, nor have I read, the core rules from 2nd edition AD&D. I am quite familiar with 1st edition AD&D, as I played that for years. As a rule system, while I still play it as a player, it's no longer my first choice as a system in which to GM games. There are other systems which I do like, and GURPS is one of those. In my opinion, the Planescape setting stands on its own, and could serve as an excellent setting for other rules sets. Ergo, GURPS Planescape.

(If I am not restrained, I may one day also produce a document entitled Fudge Planescape).


About the Conversion

Stated simply, the purpose of GURPS Planescape is to provide the information necessary to use Planescape as a setting for a GURPS game. This is the key: setting=Planescape, rules=GURPS.

I'm not trying to convert AD&D (or D&D/3e) rules to GURPS. My goal is to keep the general nature and character of the setting intact, but not every last mechanical detail. Since Planescape was written using AD&D rules, some things simply won't directly transfer. Characters might not be exactly as powerful or effective relative to each other or relative to a given monster under one rules set as they are under the other. I do not worry overmuch about this. I try to make it so that weak individuals stay more or less weak, and strong individuals stay more or less strong. For a game, that should be good enough. Where the details of a specific ability can't translate directly into GURPS terms, I try to replace it with an ability that does work under GURPS, and which represents the same general idea. I won't get hung up over how to deal with the fact that such-and-such creature is 85% resistant to first level spells. Instead, I just give it an appropriate amount of magic resistance in GURPS terms, and don't worry about whether the exact in-game effects are going to be identical.

It is important to remember that my goal is not to make it so that a GURPS Planescape game will run exactly like an AD&D Planescape game. If that were the goal, the simplest way to achieve it would be to just play AD&D; why bother with GURPS? Rather, the goal is to allow Planescape to be used as a setting for a GURPS game. The conversion should be qualitatively accurate, not quantitatively precise.

This conversion will contain very little setting background information; it is just the adaptions of the rules necessary to make Planescape work with GURPS. For background information, refer to the TSR Planescape line. Unfortunately, the entire line is out of print at this point, and the setting is no longer supported. WotC (or whoever owns them) may make noises that the setting is effectively supported in D&D/3e, but it's not. The D&D/3e Manual of the Planes refers to a lot of the same places as you'll find in Planescape, but that book is really about running a general multiplanar game. As mentioned above, Planescape is more than just the collection of all the planes: it is as setting that had its own tone, unifying themes, important characters, and so forth. A generic Manual of the Planes which refers to the same places is no more Planescape than a generic book about vampires in the modern world would be Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


Background Assumptions

I'm operating on the assumption that the "Planescape Canon" is defined by those products released between 1994 and 1999 as part of the Planescape line. My Planescape collection is fairly complete. After finding a shelf-worn copy of On Hallowed Ground at a local game store (finally!), bought new at prices cheaper than what you find used on the net nowadays, I've got everything published in the line except for a couple of the adeventures. (I also don't have "Warriors of Heaven" or "A Guide to Hell". I'll try to find them someday, but it was clear from the advertising and press that by then WotC was feeling faintly embarassed by the Planescape setting, and as such was apologetically trying to make those books more "planar adventuring" books. They may still have useful source material for Planescape, however.)

This conversion assumes a pre-Faction War Sigil. Faction War changed the political landscape of Sigil pretty significantly; it was also one of the very last products released in the line. Most of the supporting information out there for Planescape is for the setting before that adventure, although a whole lot of it (i.e. everything that doesn't have to do with Sigil, and even much that does) isn't changed by that adventure. However, factions and such given GURPS rules herein are all assuming the setting that was supported by most of the line, and ignores Faction War. It is left as an exercise for the reader to change the conversion if you are running in a setting after that adventure.

On the GURPS side of things, we're talking 4th edition of the rules. GURPS being a rules set and not a setting, you don't have to worry about things like plot/character developments with it... you just have to worry about new editions coming out and modifying the rules! (Which just happened last year.)

The Planescape setting is mostly TL3 in GURPS terms, although there are some elements from TL's 0-2 and a fair contribution from TL4 (though not firearms). If you're playing Planescape with the default setting and "feel," characters from Prime worlds should be limited to TL3 or non-firearmed TL4. Sure, it's more logical to assume that there are high tech prime worlds out there. However, that's not really a part of the Planescape multiverse, and introducing them greatly changes the nature and feel of Planescape. (Of course, if you want to do that, more power to you; it's the sort of thing GURPS is good at. Heck, you could probably integrate the whole thing into the "Infinite Worlds" setting, either by saying that the Planescape cosmology is attached to one of the parallel Earths of the Infinite Worlds, or by saying that all the parallel Earths are spread about on the Prime Material Plane. You may even find much of this conversion to be of use to you for any of these sorts of ideas, even though I'm assuming you aren't doing that when I make the conversion.)


Handy References


As with any Planescape game, players who wish to play planars or other characters familiar would do well to acquire The Planewalker's Handbook. At the very least, they should borrow and read their GM's copy of "A Players Guide to the Planes" that comes with the core Planescape boxed set. On the other hand, if the player is a prime who is new to the setting, he doesn't need to read anything about Planescape specifically.

From a rules point of view, the minimum that a player would need to know is covered in GURPS Lite, the free 32-page version of GURPS which may be downloaded over the web. That presents a workable introduction to GURPS and should be enough to get players creating characters and playing the game, with some feeling that they have a clue what is going on. For more depth, players will want the "Characters" book of the GURPS Basic Set, and perhaps GURPS Magic.


A GM needs, at bare minimum, the core Planescape boxed set and the GURPS Basic Set (both volumes). Because this is a magic rich fantasy setting, a GM is almost certainly going to need GURPS Magic. Finally, GURPS Fantasy may have some useful material and ideas.


What's New

November 22, 2012

  • Put the site back online after it had been offline for several years. Also converted my perl-generated static HTML pages into the PHP sort of site I use nowadays. No text was edited for this change.

May 12, 2005 (Version 0.8.0)

  • Massive updates and changes for 4th edition GURPS. Also includes some rethinking of some of the templates.

December 25, 2002 (Version 0.7.14)

  • Modify the Bariaur template to give them a split strength for upper/lower body, with the lower body ST being two points higher than the upper body ST. (This gives "normal" values in line with a largish goat as per GURPS Bestiary.) This raises the cost of the male Bariaur template by 4 points and the cost of the female Bariaur template by 8 points.

..., 2002 (Version 0.7.13)

  • Modify the Dustmen template (goes from 10 to 14 points).

August 27, 2002 (Version 0.7.12)

  • It looks like I might be running GURPS Planescape again soon, so I've started futzing with the conversion again. A bunch of stuff in the introduction was updated.

November 10, 2000 (Version 0.7.11)

  • Added the World Jumper advantage, which will eventually affect the Baatezu templates (when I get around to it).

  • Added some more monsters, including a template for the Githyanki.

  • Added Planescape-specific long-distance modifiers to the Magic chapter.

September 14, 2000 (Version 0.7.10)

  • Added some creatures to teh Bestiary chapter (Gerheleths, Trolls).

July 7, 2000 (Version 0.7.9)

  • Added the table of magic limitations for the rings of The Outlands in the Planes chapter.

May 15, 2000 (Version 0.7.8)

May 9, 2000 (Version 0.7.7)

  • Changed the color scheme and added some gratuitous "metal" graphics. (I think black on white is more readable than light on black; what do you think?)
  • Price of "Portal Sense" decreased to 15 points
  • Fated overlay altered (price now 0 instead of 4 points)
  • Added remaining factions: Signers, Sensates, Ciphers, Chaosmen
  • Minor edits
  • Added some things to the Planes chapter, including some information about the Ethereal.

March 26, 2000 (Version 0.7.6)

  • Added to the list of faction overlays: Guvners, Indeps, Hardheads, Red Death, Anarchists.
  • Added the faction-specific "Mercykiller Attack" and "Faction Masquerading" advantages to the Characters chapter.

Click here to see older updates


[Golden Horns Award] This site received the July 1999 Golden Horns Award from the Tale of the Bariaur. Thanks, Gary!

Last modified 2012-11-22 by Omar.