I generally liked the fluff in 4e. It had some flaws in presentation (efreets? Really?!) but generally thought pretty hard about crafting a cohesive whole from its bits and bobs.
I also generally like the 4e planar structure. D&D is better with a realm of faerie close to the world, and ditto a realm of death.
One thing that caught me off guard, though, even ignoring the mouthless 4e angels.
The mountains of Celestia got rearranged.
Classic roster: Lunia, Mercuria, Venya, Solania, Mertion, Jovar, Chronias.
4e roster: Venya, Solania, Mertion, Jusar, Fulghen, Perantia, Chronias.
Nobody of importance lives on the last 4. Even weirder, planes above p. 44 claims the above list is descending order. Misprint?
Why did they change their names? What are these new under-detailed places like? Above all, why?
One guess: to avoid conceptual, even loosely, overlap with other layers of other planes, and to hammer home the mountain thing.
For instance, Lunia’s holy water healing like kind of moved to Empyron on Jusor, probably to condense and make room.
I kind of like it; it breaks me out of the mode where I’m just rattling off celestial bodies’ names.
In my campaign, the foremost “gods of good” are the rulers of these seven planes, and are titled as the layer they represent (though, as is traditional, Chronias is Chronias, the once and future.
They’re not gods of course, just the seven wisest and strongest beings in creation, with millenia of empathy and culture to fall back on, and a support structure of the best that the rest of the worlds have to offer. Millenia of magical items in their armory.
Venya is Venus and Elysium and Mariner’s Green. It is the champion of life, shelter, and bounty.
Solania is Apollo; skilled in all arts and crafts, active and energetic and creative. Athletes, scholars, queens and craftsmen live on itss slopes.
Mertion is Mars, red and vengeful. Here the hosts muster against eschaton; here heaven’s armory is built and maintained.
Jusor, Jupiter. I’m not sure how to unify “storm god” with “fourth-highest of holies”, but it seems worthwhile. Perhaps this is where heaven stores its armaments, a sort of heaven’s laboratory in particle physics and advanced arcana. Perhaps the storm is metaphysical, some sort of map-territory of the journey of the soul. Perhaps it’s a shard of thr chaos that precedes creation, curated in Heaven since where else would it go? Perhaps all 3.
Fulghen: no obvious analogue. We skipped mercury earlier, so this might be an opportunity. We could sort of put Mercury, Neptune and Bacchus in a blender and pull out Fulghen, patron of travel, trade, flux; passion, ecstasy and mad genius.
Perantia. Another no-specific-roman-planetary-equivalent-by-name. Saturn, yes okay no points; duty, civilization, law-against-chaos. But irritating, of course, because obviously Chronias is Saturn. But too little too late for this to be Lunia. Austere and humble, those who suffered in the cause of good receive their desserts here.
And, finally, Chronias. The hidden, the eldest, the endless light and the wisest spirit. What lies in Chronias is unknown, perhaps unknowable.