Fans Claim New Planescape Books Lack Accurate Lady Of Pain Image, Lost Youth and Innocence
Fans of the D&D second edition Planescape setting have been decrying possible changes to the Planescape setting that Wizards of the Coast have teased about the upcoming Planescape books, claiming that the books contain no images of the Lady of Pain as depicted in the second edition books, nor do they contain any ability to return the reader any semblance of youth or innocence about the world.
The outrage started with an art post made by former Planescape artist Tony DiTerlizzi on his Facebook page on March 28, 2023. The post consisted of a new panoramic scene of Sigil with a redesigned Lady of Pain at the center of the panel, as well as several other redesigned characters that call back to some of the iconic art of the line. Older fans immediately hated the piece, however, declaring that the scene neglects to accurately portray the Lady of Pain, Sigil, or the last evaporating wisps of their youthful vigor and hope long-time fans have come to expect from, and project onto, the setting.
“There’s no way WotC can hope to [restore me to a version of myself 25 years ago] with this book,” said Matt Johnsonson, an assistant manager at a local Starbucks who describes himself as a “peery cutter from back in the day.” “All they care about is getting people’s money. They’re afraid to publish anything that [doesn’t recreate within me that ephemeral sense of excitement and possibility one can only have as a young adult]. And bringing DiTerlizzi back? That’s just a token attempt to [rekindle a spark of genuine joy, untainted by jaded pessimism, within my long-dead spirit.] It doesn’t even look like he drew it. It looks like [the product of someone whose artistic style evolved over the last three decades.] That’s not why his original art was so good.”
“Let’s face it,” Johnsonson continued. “WotC isn’t interested in [giving me back that sense of youthful wonder that can come only from a life unaware of the banality of adult life or the existential terror of an uncertain future]. They just want the cash.”
In the weeks since that first post, more details have been forthcoming, each time met with arguments from older fans who want to show that the new edition is worthless, citing facts such as “the new edition doesn’t contain as much information as [the entirety of the published second-edition line],” “The factions aren’t [exactly the same as what I remember,]” and “the snippets about the planes lack [the fantastical sense that I, too, could adventure to new places and not be stuck in my job so I can meet financial obligations I despise.]
Barbara Garnet, cultural anthropologist at Ball State University who studies tabletop gaming subcultures, said that many products redesigned from older games often deal with similar issues.
“Relaunched game products have to meet the impossible standard of appealing to today’s players, many of whom have no prior experience with the property, and older fans, who view any change to the original as an attempt to force them to admit that time has progressed and they are no longer in the cusp of their youth,” said Garnet. “They have come to see the property as a way to escape from their daily concerns and responsibilities, and changes to any of it are viewed as attempts to force them to deal with the unrealized and failed dreams that created their current situation. Creating outrage, then, allows them to receive the emotional validation and reassurance they feel they need.”
“Planescape fans are hit especially hard because the game sold itself as having philosophical underpinnings, which fostered a pseudo-intellectual community that believed itself to be exploring existential ideas when they were just dungeon crawling like everyone else,” Garnet added. “I mean, come on. It was an RPG in the ‘90s.How enlightened could it have been?”
Johnsonson remains undeterred by the reality of his situation, though, and has plans to gather like-minded people to protest the changes to the line and their aging bodies.
“There are plenty of fans out there who aren’t going to let Wizards butcher the line,” he said. “Everyone on my Facebook group for Planescape fans, everyone on the planewalker.com forums, the Planescape mailing list…the vast, vast majority of us agree that this is a terrible execution of an otherwise great idea. Once we get the word out to the fans, Wizards will really see what the fans really want: [the economic and social verification that the dreams of my youth were not foolish, and that I am still considered physically and intellectually virile by my peers and possible sexual partners.] That’s not that hard to do.”
“Maybe I can get Jon from mimir.net to post a notice,” Johnsonson mused.
As of press time, Johnsonson was holding off on writing and publishing his latest argument about the new books because he still had to walk his dog and “my back hurts from all the sitting at my computer today.”