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Reach for the stars
At its core, Dungeons & Dragons is a game about exploration and discovery. As players journey through the world, they encounter various environments and landscapes, including towering mountain ranges, endless bodies of water, and dense, sprawling forests. But while these natural features are impressive, they pale compared to the planets, moons, and stars that orbit above. Celestial bodies are more crucial to D&D than most recognize, providing a sense of scale and wonder far beyond terrestrial landforms.
Though not a mandatory part of all campaigns, the planets of D&D can serve several functions that help to expand the players' world. Perhaps their most obvious contribution is the immediate implication of the scale of the environment. While most adventures may revolve around a simple dungeon, introducing planets reveals the instantaneous vastness of the surrounding universe. Planets that are hundreds if not thousands of miles in diameter are awe-inspiring and illustrate the limitless opportunities for adventure.
Still, there's more to these celestial bodies than their breathtaking aesthetics. They also play a critical role in the game's lore and mythology. In many campaigns, planets are seen as the homes of powerful gods and goddesses, each with unique domains and spheres of influence. These divine beings are often the focus of quests and adventures, and their actions can profoundly impact the world. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is Selune, Our Lady of Silver, or the goddess of the moon, whose followers believe she controls the ebb and flow of the tides.
Of course, not all planets in D&D are created equal. Some are barren and lifeless, while others teem with strange and exotic flora and fauna. Some are shrouded in mysterious darkness, while others bask in the radiant light of a nearby star. These shifts in environment can allow players to encounter new and unique challenges that require untested skills and strategies to gain victory or to further their story.
A world of good.
Perhaps most importantly, planets can provide a sense of wonder and mystery essential to the game's appeal. When players grow tired of the same old dungeons or towering castles, planets can be a great way to break from the mundane or expected. There's something inherently fascinating about investigating a distant world, venturing into the unknown, and discovering sights and sounds beyond the scope of the everyday experience.
This bewilderment that drives exploration is what draws many players to TTRPGs in the first place, and it's what keeps them coming back for more. Much like the concept of planes in D&D, planets allow players to continue their adventures beyond the singular world of their game masters. New magic, creatures, and even simple things like flowers or stones can provide various unexplored role-playing opportunities for an adventuring party. Sudden changes in the surroundings can reinvigorate the gaming experience. Allowing players to explore the fiery surfaces of sun-baked distant deserts or brave the icy wastes of unfamiliar arctic badlands creates new trials that require clever solutions. And if nothing else, what adventurer worth their salt wouldn't want to be the first of their kind to set foot on alien soil?stop.