Ramon’s Guide to Realms of Goodness

At long last, an expedition I can embark on without fear of certain demise at every corner!  Salvation, at last?  Perhaps.  As it is, several forces and powers would practically salivate at the chance of stopping my addle-coved quest to document taboos and forlorn places.  I’m surprised The Mists, as the denizens of Dread call them, haven’t taken me back and rubbed me out of planar existence.  Know-how of the Demiplane of Dread is something the best greybeards can speak little on.  And, the forces below!  The Lower Planes would thrill at the chance of claiming a chronicler, either to enforce their own propaganda or a glorious poaching prize.

But, no matter.  That isn’t to say that the Good planes are inherently easy to traverse.  No, friends, quite far from it.  Shadow wars and clashing ideologies still rear their heads.  However, the planars within these realms tend to be more discreet and friendly about it.  That isn’t to say that a leather-headed move won’t be costly.  Plus, there is an inherent trap within the allure of the Upper Planes.  It’s easy to get as lost as one would within the Sylvan Realms.   But, matters could always be worse.

Author’s Note: Hmmm, what do I do from here?  I was hoping I could wait out isolation by writing tons of blurbs on the Great Wheel?  I suppose I could tackle the Inner Planes and bring more ideas to that.  Primordium is just the beginning of that, I guess.  Also, I always felt like the Upper Planes could use a little more umph in some spots.  The Lower Planes are much cooler to adventure in.  And to be honest?  The Upper Planes need the most improvement, especially the top middle three!  Let’s see if I can’t come up with a few cool ideas, huh?  Also, don’t mind the many squeezed in references to things…  D&D has been guilty of it throughout time.

 

 

Mt. Celestia, the Seven Heavens

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Are you a paragon of order, virtuous conduct, righteousness, honor, duty, dignity, servitude, mercy and lawful goodness?  If you agreed with all of these things, you qualify to visit the sloping heights of Mt. Celestia!  As mentioned, this is the epitome of Lawful Goodness, the bright mirror of Baator, the finger wag against those unruly/uncouth rascals of Arborea and the arch enemy of The Abyss.  Seven magnificent mountains embody the plane, each operating on a tier of splendor.  That’s not completely just literal, the mountain itself is a metaphor to judge the potential for goodness in a subject.  Should they truly be the noble character that the celestials of this realm look for, they’ll have no problem ascending to new heights.  Now, for yours truly?  It’s a little more difficult.  But, challenges are good!  In many ways, they build character!

Upon the first layer, Lunia, is a realm itself of starlit joy and peace.  This is a realm of sacred child-like innocence, with matters often operating on similar principles.  Social animals interact orderly and without a cause for harm, like in many fables, as invisible shepherds watch over.  Deep within the layer is an amphitheater made out of wood, perfectly carved for comfort of the audience.  Upon the stage is a vivid elderly looking man who glows much like the stars do.  The Divine Storyteller is what he calls himself, as his white single-shouldered robe seems to gleam at his name’s mention.  A toga, I believe they call it.  But, no matter, the man delights in telling morality tales and fables about life, the planes and so much more.  His insight carries the themes of the layer as a whole.  And, should something be unclear, he is happy to elaborate and do his best to connect a lesson to a point in the curious inquirer’s life.  Somehow, he just seems to know the specific event he talks about.  However, his methods aren’t at all mysterious or strange, at least to him.  He proclaims that all lessons of goodness belong to all and he has his methods for obtaining his knowledge.  To him, letting go of his many secrets would take away from the tales he wishes to impart visitors with.  Some suspect that he’s actually a transformed Tome Archon, but this isn’t true.  He has gone at lengths to debunk this.  As for what he truly is?  He won’t say, but he will stop any lies about him as well.  And while he is not a Trumpet Archon, he has none the less befriended several that dwell upon Lunia.  When not busy keeping watch, even Hound Archons have been known to show up to the amphitheater.

Mahlhevik is an eccentric addition to Lunia, in his own right.  An evil wizard driven by the goal of reforming, his castle is a curious site, but a welcome refuge for those not interested in archon politics.  However, among his somewhat reformed friends, one is a truly strange oddity that finds itself ever at odds… with itself!  Grargin’Grathix, the Mirror of Dread, is a sentient mirror with a magical power to create magical portals.  Originally an artifact of the Abyss, it found itself wrestling with Celestia and later Mahlhevik.  Eventually, the artifact found itself giving up to some of the natures of Celestia.  However, certain events and happenings trigger off old habits.  Often, it will find itself refusing to cooperate with visiting heroes wishing to travel to other places, often on good quests.  Other times, it will do all in its somewhat constrained will to mess with the heroes.  While it can’t send them to a place putting them in immediate danger, it will try to send them to the wrong point or even another plane.  However, the destination can never be too far off track.  Also, doing so causes the mirror great anguish, even if it’s also a moment of equally brief satisfaction.  When not active, Grargin’Grathix finds itself cursing and loathing its existence much of the time.  Other times, it begins to consider the goodly and structured ways of Celestia, before reverting to disparaging itself over such notions.  Mahlhevik himself seeks to fully reform the mirror some day, but leaves the distraught artifact to deal with its own existential crisis for the time being.

The layer of Mercuria is known for honoring legendary warriors, but there is more to.  The Collection of the Worthy is an archive of epic deeds.  This chronicle of legendary deeds of justice details all sorts of wondrous acts, all from truly noble beings who fought for values of law and good.  While paladins take up much of the space here, entries for several other types of superb crusaders of good are part of this collection.  Like the rest of the layer, it is a memorial to the greatest advocates, campaigners and combatants throughout the planes.  However, this is no such place of grief.  Mercuria is a realm of triumph and celebration, for the quests of their heroes are mighty and their legacies are great! There is much more to it than that though.  Those who are judged worthy of honoring the legacy of a great warrior may be granted a chance to study and train in their ways as well.  Indeed, not only does this location function as a library, but it doubles as a divine dojo of sorts.  Not only can one honor the mighty heroes that come before, but one can be chosen to carry on their holy actions.  And for those who use these new skills as their sponsor would approve?  It is said that these students sense the presence of their otherworldly mentor, pushing them onto their own stories of greatness too.

While not known to many, the Fraternity of Joyous Devotion has its very roots here.  The paladin order only shifted in mentality and focus after the tragedy of Arcadia’s loss became known.  And by the magic of the planes, the order simply split with some vanishing from this plane and others staying behind to serve their original purpose.  If asked about it, the remaining knights will address the matter with a mixture of somber loss and proud support.  They very much miss their brethren, but they support keeping The Harmonium of Arcadia in line in regards to goodness.  But, a word of advice, do not bring up fallen fighters and combatants of the more Evil persuasion.  It visibly upsets them.  Do it too much and there’s a chance they’ll try to expel you from the library one way or another.

A sun’s wisdom lights the way of Solania.  It is here where one can seek council of life’s mysteries.  Letnithaol the Tome Archon is among the most cooperative in such assistance.  However, any wisdom regarding the many curiosities about the multiverse are often buried deep within long and elaborate speeches of deep philosophy.  While numerous celestials would take offense at being interrupted, Letnithaol simply reacts with disappointment and understanding.  This isn’t to say the archon is a pushover, unlawful acts are quick to cause a snappy response.  However, tome archons are known to loathe engaging in combat.  This curious celestial is often busy pondering various ideas, concepts and meanings within the foggy and sun-touched crystalline layer.  This isn’t for show, as the celestial is deeply interested in using meaning and definition as a methods of advancing the forces of the plane itself.  Likewise, no tome archon is truly lost in thought, as they’re always cataloguing and scribing lore of the multiverse.  In fact, they’re the most common visitors of the Library just a couple of layers down.  That said, the aloof look of Letnithaol is certainly a quirk compared to the rest of the race.

 

 

Bytopia, the Twin Paradise

The Planes: Bytopia — Dump Stat Adventures

Welcome to twin realms of pure organization.  Where one ends, another begins.  You see, each side faces the other in a mirror like fashion and two mountains unite in the center.  Once you reach the top, you had best be careful.  For you see, once you switch layers, gravity will reverse to accommodate the other mountain.  This is a realm of mutual aid, cooperation, built up trust and advancement.  Everyone does their share and promptly benefits from it.  Call it the ideal work day and the ideal benefits of said work!  In fact, it could be said work is an enjoyable activity all its own within this plane.  The first layer of Dothion represents working in an ideal environment.  Markets always provide and stock up, manual activity doesn’t cause too much sweat, the environment is overall pretty mild.  It is also the Spirit of Invention.  While Mechanus is a realm running on clockwork, this layer is where tests are conducted to ensure things can someday be as efficient.  It should be of no surprise that much of the Gnomish pantheon dwells here.  The second layer of Shurrock seems out of place at first.  It is a vast frontier with much harsher weather and a variety of dotted settlements contending with the environment and celestial life that they share space with.  This layer embodies one’s will to adapt, plot and survive against all odds.  After all, innovation can come from far more dire places.  All in all, it’s no wonder that the distant and alien Arcane have often found themselves here.  And unlike other places, they seem quite content within the plane’s borders.

The Twin Paradise Exploration Guild is a firmly established initiative, albeit it only became successful recently.  Under this order, creators are to brave the intensity of Shurrock to be rewarded in greater supplies to create within Dothion.  This fits in with the guild’s manifesto, in which participants must work their hardest and push beyond comfortable boundaries to achieve dreams.  And by all means, those who take up their challenge find themselves creating far better goods than those content to stay within Dothion.  Likewise, those who try to establish their own branch in Shurrock find themselves whisked to the other layer, as if their purpose there was merely to explore and uncover.  Though, this is in part from the traditionalist crafters’ sheer force of will rebuking the more eclectic inventors.  The leader is a planar entrepreneur, Findlum Twingefelt, a gnomish tinkerer hailing originally from Krynn.   Among his people, he was a “mad gnome” who lost the way of his people.  However, his ambitions became realized upon this plane instead.  Granted, his first experiment of a massive ladder between the two sides of the plane was pure gnome madness, for certain.  After this failed horribly, he switched his ambitions to something much more practical.

This has lead to another split, The Conservationists.  A mixed group of druids, farmers and creators have made a cooperative settlement on Shurrock; many of whom were members of the Exploration Guild.  For them, this is the opportunity to study how to manage and maintain an environment.  Many of them go to great lengths to modify a habitat and see how the celestial wildlife adapts.  In a plane like The Beastlands, the residents would frown upon such behavior.  However, the inventive nature of Bytopia seems to reward it.  Everything is utilized and maintained efficiently under their jurisdiction.  In fact, they’ve drawn ire from the Guild for trying to impose sanctions on how many resources can be harvested at a given time.  While many of the druids were initially unsettled by these plans, they’ve come to respect the pragmatic compromises of this new guild.

This has created yet another splinter as well, The Twin Sky Guardians.  While the ground between the twin mountains is important, protection must be ever watchful from the skies above.  Tinkers and laborers alike maintain elaborate airships that are adaptable to the strange gravity of the plane.  Their mission is simple, patron the skies of Bytopia to keep an ever watchful eye over its denizens.  Their watch duty is never malicious or overbearing.  On the contrary, its primary purpose is safety rather than enforcing stricture measures of any kind.  While their activity is more active in Shurrock, they have spotted issues within Dothion.  Granted, the latter is often caused by meddling outsiders.  For the non-malicious outsider, they are simply greeted by a fascinating work of air, steel and lots of stretching material that glides the craft throughout the skies.  Though, propeller mechanisms certainly help with that.  On the top and bottom, two boxes house pilots and crew alike.  Even air sentinels and aarakocra have taken up the cause, in order to aid travelers accordingly.  In fact, when not actively on duty, one tall and blue aarakocra can be seen performing a peculiar gnomish craft instrument at various makeshift stages around the bytopian market places.  He aspires to finish a song started by his teacher, and what better plane to finish his dream job.

The Mediated Marketplace is the epitome of Bytopian ideals.  It is here where exchange is made fairly, far more fair than The Cage ever will be.  However, reward comes from work and outsiders usually need to earn their worth for a chance to participate.  When an outsider helps out with enough tasks around various guilds and settlements, they’ll be asked to sell some of those items in the market, to get a grasp on how things operate.  Only then are they given permission to truly experience all that it has to offer.  This is to prevent particularly exploitative minds from harnessing things to their benefit.  Following an incident with a disguised ultroloth, they’ve attempted to be as careful as possible.  Ever since, they have not only increased security but recruited the aid of ever wise merchant-priests to help oversee matters.  But, assuming you stay as fair as the vendors, it’s easy to procure all sorts of nice goods.  While battlements are rare, some visiting planar vendors have been allowed to sell them in rare circumstances, assuming that they’re kept encased or sealed upon purchase.  And even then, these are usually enchanted with essences of good.

The Hall of Considerable Wonder is much like the High Hall of Wonders in tribute to Toril’s Gond Wonderbringer.  However, this scientific establishment is one of peace, while it is said that Gond has no issues with creations of war.  All sorts of artifice, invention and technology are welcome here.  Well, anything that isn’t intended as a weapon.  From farming tools to cleaning supplies to new methods of health and medicine; all is welcome and all is forged here.  Within the settlement of Spring-Stretch, this place is a welcome fit.  In fact, many of the buildings carry a feeling of advancement and exquisite craft.  And contrary to expectations, several of the staffers aren’t actually gnomes.  Several humans and even some rogue modrons have taken residence within the building; often working on clerical duties after the building has closed for the day.  Many workers are willing to share their methods, but only in fair trade for a creation of equal value.  After all, fair trade is one of the themes of the plane itself.

 

 

Elysium, the Blessed Fields

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A plane of unending love, the counter point to Hades’ relentless hate.  Everything around it simply speaks of serenity.  It’s nice, perhaps too nice.  For those not completely of the realms of good, it’s an anxiety attack waiting to happen.  However, it’s so nice that one can risk being lost within these feelings while on this plane.  Many travelers have become glorified zombies overwhelmed with bliss from staying here too long, at least until they’re forcefully extracted.  Plus, the Guardinals come across as a tad uncomfortable to yours truly.  No matter, many of Pure-in-Progress’ clients were once at fault from their Elysium addiction of sorts and have learned to confront it.  But, while there is too much of a good thing, let us at least take a moment to observe some of the great things this plane has to offer… but not for too long.  From the loveliest incarnation of the city to a close-knit nomadic tribe, a body can easily find a burg to fit in.  No one will care about your expertise, race, beliefs or what have you; just do no evil and cause no trouble.  And thanks to the River Oceanus, called Jordan as well, navigation shouldn’t be too hard.  Sure you take the ferry trip, be sure to tip the Aasimon.

One such community is simply called The Village, within the layer of Amoria, as an informal city-state of sorts.  The curious thing about it is that both the guardinal foreman and the leader, a procyal and a lupinal, of this place leave most of the development to those to join them.  Activities to help build revenue often revolve around leisure, such as the collection and showcasing of incredible creatures, planting trees or procuring beautiful artworks.  Some have taken it upon themselves to commemorate these moments in a small museum building.  Curiously, the halls of this place are ever expansive.  Plus, it has a magical effect of inspiration and amazement, rather than allowing visitors to feel jealous or self-conscious.  Violence is seemingly stopped, however one can still antagonize the residents with a variety of tools.  Mind you, this is discouraged and you will be approached on this.  For long staying residents, little gifts have a habit of mysteriously being sent to them.  There doesn’t seem to be a reason behind it, but it’s pleasant.  As for celebration, there seems to be a mixture of various prime-based holidays, plus some newly created ones upon the plane that are observed.  This could be from a blend of cultures or possibly from the celestials themselves trying to create a familiar environment.  It’s nice, but I’d rather seek out venues of adventure.

The Aasimon Council is a recent advancement with Elysium.  Quite simply, Neutral Good-aligned angelic Aasimon proclaim that they should be the representative of Elysium, while the Guardinals are more suited towards the Beastlands.  And honestly, I agree on some level, not from my own personal biases.  Think about it, beastly shapes as a representation of wild energy, and pure good angels as a representative of a pure good place.  It just makes sense!  No matter, their own discussions were far from heated and any attempts at angered debate (usually at the hands of non-celestials) were usually altered with a positive point.  Ultimately, they’ve only convinced a fraction of the plane and the Guardinals aren’t quite ready to give up their current station.  Perhaps with some extra convincing, this big planar change can occur.  As it is, guardinals meet eladrin and seelie court fey in the beastlands as a neutral grounds.  It’s not that much more of a step.  But, what of the place?  Simple forms of pleasant rocks and minerals form pillars that support a circular meeting hall, lined with boxes of flowers and a roof that somehow brings in enough sunlight and light rain to keep them lively.  While there is a center of this room, it isn’t used for any central figure, but just a means of getting to a seat.  Instead, attendants simply rise from their station to address the crowd as equals.

The Happy Hikers Grounds, a group in the layer of Eronia, was initially named in mockery of The Beastlands.  Quite simply, it is a group of people who take joy in finding challenge in life.  While their homebase is upon this plane, they have been known to plane hop in order to find enlightening and joyous adventure.  As their name implies, they started as a bunch of daring planes explorers who wanted to see what this layer of Elysium had to offer.  All that said, they aren’t a violent bunch and fit true to the plane’s peaceful and happy nature.  However, their motivations allow them to want to wander a little more than just Elysium itself.  Their lodge is situated at one of the lower points of Eronia, built of humble but strong timber.  According to them, the most inspiring sunrise comes from the peaks here.  Few of them visit the first layer of Amoria, citing it as a less “mature” layer to dwell upon.  This isn’t to say that the hikers are pretentious or narcissistic people, they just prefer what they consider a more mature take on the forces of good.  That said, I only slightly understand what they mean by this.  To explain their philosophy, Amoria is youthful love, while Eronia represents a developed and grown sense of love.

The Swamp Ship Gerrick is quite the oddity, especially for the already strange layer of Belierin.  Its purpose is to keep others safe within the layer, which might very well be the only truly dangerous place within the plane.  As for the ship itself?  It looks like several built up ships linked together, with incredible water wheel like back paddles and jutting pipes in the middle.  The gmonish inventor, simply known to the public as Gerrick, helped to create this micro-colony sized vessel.  Curiously, he’s the only gnome within the staff.  Many of the staff members are frog and toad spirit beings that are likely guardinals too.  All sorts of joys are regular upon the Swamp Ship, including house musicians that are permanent residents aboard the watercraft.  Even the steam escaping the pipes has an almost musical sound to it.  When people speak of danger, it’s mostly the ensnared “dangers against good” that are at threat.  By some means, that the creator won’t explain, any wicked creature that comes into contact with the underside have a habit of spontaneously exploding into radiant light.  If asked what happened to these creatures, Gerrick simply laughs and tells them that their wickedness is gone and they’re one with the plane now.  While I don’t think he has killed them, I’m not sure what he means.  In terms of travel through a rougher part of the River Oceanus, this is perhaps the most effective.  And on top of that, it’s cheap.  For travelers who can’t afford the jump?  Rules simply ask that you help and possibly befriend others on board instead.

 

 

The Beastlands, the Vast Wilderness

Tony DiTerlizzi: Planescape Beastlands splash page, in Dave ...

Oh, I was onto you, plane! No more cat man for you! I took the proper precautions.  No matter, some minor wild quirk that the plane is known for is nothing compared to the humiliation at the hands of the sylvan folk.  So, let us embark into untamed beauty of wilderness.  To many, it is the Happy Hunting Grounds, but these hunters act responsibly and within the ways of land.  Unlike the savagery and brutality of Carceri, The Beastlands are in many ways the opposite and nature “as it should be”.  The three layers of Krigala, Brux and Karasuthra make up the plane; each layer corresponding with an environment and time of day.

For those who plan on staying more than briefly, fortifications have been made.  However, these cobbled collections of natural supplies look temporary.  The dark of The Signers, The Verdant Guild, various hunters and wardens and then some has become known to visitor and resident alike.  A new sect has emerged, calling themselves The Shapers of the Organic, or the Wild Crafters.  Despite their controversial presence, they are curiously welcome within the plane.  Their founder, Kara Odell, sought bonds and cooperate with life interested in her strange experiments.  Her mixture of olden druidic ways and modern forging created “organic artifice”; augmenting creation to function like devices.  After pleading to various powers across the plane to let her experiment, she was granted leeway by an amused Cat Lord.  Various wildlife lent themselves to be reshaped into her wondrous works, all retaining various aspects of their old life.  Walls of bone, weapons resembling beasts, roofs of muscle and plant matter; all of this is easily overwhelming to the uninitiated.  Even older or sickly members have willingly changed themselves into one of the many works of the settlement.

However, many troubles have come to the Sect.  Some extremist artificers were banished or slain after they selfishly forced life into organic technology, rather than establishing a trust first.  Fortunes grew worse when Kara was abducted by curious fae, never to be heard from again.  But, that would explain some weird things among the sylvan realms.  And the dark of the chant has it, her cursed bloodline in LaTerre had a connection to the fair folk as it was.  While the quasi faction has sustained themselves and care little for trade, the Powers won’t allow their creations outside of their settlement, due to them “augmenting” nature itself, rather than letting remain as it was.  Numerous natives have decried this as a mutilation of nature, even though other groups have augmented nature to their needs before them; action against the settlement ranged in hostility.

Brux is cloaked in the shade of the Beastlands, but still a part of it none the less.  Light and Dark meet in the middle, much like another dimension all too familiar to me.  One particular quirk of this layer is that its connection to shadows has literally established blinking gates to the Demiplane of Shadows itself!  In fact, many shadowy creatures have accidentally migrated to the plane, before its very nature reshaped them.  As such good-aligned shadow beasts can be found within this layer, to the confusion of many.  This isn’t to say that they’re friendly, but can make valid allies in the right circumstances.  And likewise, many creatures have become more shadow-like after venturing into the demiplane.  These outsiders usually spend their time trying to hunt down evil denizens of The Shadows.  Seeing the Shadow Shepherds of the Beastlands crunch down upon the Shadow Mastiffs of the Demiplane is an astonishing happening to behold.  Even more intriguing is bleeding influence of both planes.  Around areas where The Shadows is known to appear, colors are dulled and the contrast of light and dark is amplified.

The Shadows isn’t the only cross planar connection upheld by The Beastlands.  While savage unseelie often find themselves in The Abyss and Carceri, the more feral and free spirits of both the seelie and wyld court have shown up here.  The Divine Realm of Skerrit, God of Centaurs, has connections to the Glades of the Hooved Wardens.  While the wild fey excise divine worship, the centaurs of those realms still hold reverence for Skerrit.  However, their distance from the divine dominion allows for corruptions of the faith by such Glades residents as the Mercykiller Ghor Fallentrample.  The domain of Antorek and its grim mirror of Feral Wyld has seen several refugees here, completing the Rule of Threes.  The residents of The Unbroken Beasts are encouraged to freely and positively express both sentient and bestial sides.  The Change only happens willingly here and ends on a whim too.  Since I have free choice this time, I could thankfully decline.  Meanwhile, the Seelie, the Eladrin (on occasion) and the Guardinals have created temporary meeting grounds within the Beastlands, as a neutral discourse space.  Given how many seelie have natural qualities and the guardinals are self-explanatory, this would be the most logical course of action.

What of other Powers described by fellow travelers?  Surely, they deserve mention!  Several of these powers are worshiped by the people of Laterre/Terra, such as the Nations upon the Turtle Back.  Is this continent actually a turtle?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps it’s merely an ancient power the decided to reside upon the Prime.  However, several of them are not to be found upon this plane.  The assumption that all of them dwell within The Beastlands is a Primer stereotype though.  One such being known to me as The Healing Sun, has been found upon Bytopia, shuddering at the thought of moving to The Beastlands.  The Powers of the Crow Mother, the Master of Bears, the Solar Lord of Bison all reside within the plane; despite being revered by many different worshipers from not only the prime, but the planes beyond.  Sadly, my accounts of these beings are second-hand, as no devotees were willing to talk to me for the time being.  Perhaps another day, a focus on powers may be in order.  With any work, the Powers will send me a message.  Barring that, devotees would be a blessing to speak with.

Arborea, The Olympian Glades

This is a realm of benevolent chaos, home of kindly anarchists and then some! Also, real Eladrin! Yes, the real ones, not the Sidhe that Clueless and Primers keep confusing them with… all the time.  However, one best not impose too much authority over the residents here, they’re quite touchy about that.  While not as likely as on Ysgard, some may very well retaliate against your orders.  But, as long as one minds their own business and is nice to others, there shouldn’t be too many problems here.  Besides, in terms of the planes as a whole, this one is in many ways the most nice.  Or, by my own biases, I would like to think so.

One idea that spawned from the plane is that education and information are for everyone.  For that reason, Free University was born.  Disorganized and heavily chaotic, it still manages to act as its own institution even under the forces of Chaos.  The faculty is comprised of extremely intelligent volunteers, students and natives of the plane.  Courses are loose and creative, appealing to different learning styles and methods of engagement.  A means of qualifying for a position is to simply argue your knowledge better than the existing professor.  The loser is asked to step down from the position and the winner goes forth with instruction.  Most of the students who go through this unorthodox method of education often approach their expertise with different perspectives and takes, to the chagrin of many employers and foremen.  And even then, the at times surreal methods have caused this institution to be criticized and questioned by “far more valid” colleges.  One vocal critic comes from a prime material parallel of Eberron, a planes-traveling mage who studied at the finest centers of learning in Sharn.  To him, the layout and “structure” of the courses, and even the “alien architecture” of the actual buildings, make absolutely no sense.  He has made it a mission to petition the center to either close or admit to him that it’s not a true college.  Finding it is not so simple, it can only be sought out while on the plane with a desire to learn.  And just like that, it seems to be a layer of its own.  Hidden layers, what a strange concept…

On that note, surely there isn’t more to Arborea than a beautiful set of fields manipulated by a pantheon, a oceanic wonder and a mostly empty stretch?  Why, of course there is!  While the Eladrin embody a certain freedom, they also value personal privacy… especially their own.  There exist “quasi layers” all around the plane.  This is one of the ways that the Seelie Court can exist seemingly undetected, and they’re forever grateful to the eladrin for this gift.  While some quasi layers have been discovered, leading to the creation of Free University, others remain theory and speculation.  It is likely here that deep secrets of the plane’s true natives are buried.  But, for a race built on benevolent chaos?  What strange things would they keep away?  And why?  Some surmise that they’re developing secrets on bringing fallen angels back to their proper forms of goodness.  Others think they’re trying to make fiends rise out of evil.  Perhaps they’re pondering ways to undo the unending law of the other side of the Upper Planes?  Just because Celestials don’t have their own Blood War doesn’t mean that disagreements can’t develop after all.  Several of the eladrin are either uncomfortable or dismissive when this subject is even implied.  Maybe some day, I’ll earn enough trust to dive into far deeper lore.  The best I have been able to manage is one of the many temporary encampments set up by the ever moving eladrin.  They discussed stories of goodness within their circle, spoke openly about various issues and were all around quite welcoming.  Well, that was the case until I bluntly shifted the mood.  And just like that, I found myself not on a nice raft within the layer of Ossa, but in the water itself.  All those spirited celestials I was talking to?  Gone.  Bah!  Fine, keep your secrets then!

While Arborea has a level of decadence and hedonism associated with it, there is often a point to it.  One of the central focuses is teaching lessons to help better one’s character.  Instead of the pains of an addiction, the indulgence simply becomes tiresome, as a visitor will find themselves wanting to accomplish so much more with their lives.  One such establishment to make this easier is a Bariaur by the name of Pure-in-Progress.  Devoted to a cause of self-improvement, her mystical lodge allows the user to help make choices to break themselves out of bad habits.  The inherently magical nature of this former-Sensate’s studio room has made it an attractive locale for addicts across the planes seeking aid for their vices.  Curiously, the most recent client is a Blood War refugee; a bard who was obsessed about gambling.  But, he didn’t gamble in funds, but the souls of those he convinced to borrow.  His skills, ironically, were quite terrible and he fancied himself ahead of the Baatezu who “hired” him.  In the end, he only cared about the thrill and it drove him mad.  After conquering his gambling addiction, he realizes he’ll have to return to the Lower Planes in inevitable punishment for his misdeeds.  It is quite the amazement such a simple place can help turn someone around like that, perhaps even quell some fears too.  Alas, I lack such issues and I shall never admit to it myself.  After all, one can’t be helped in such an establishment if they fail to announce that they have a problem.  But, life works that way in general.

However, I’m not done with tales of this Bariaur.  When not active with her studio, she can be found meditating in the supposedly barren dirt patches of Pelion.  Through this trance like state, the dry and vacant space doesn’t seem to affect her.  It’s as if the power of will triumphs over this blank canvas, surpassing the need for any kind of food or water.  This is the case while the meditation is active at the very least.  But, she’s not always alone.  Sometimes, the clients of her lodge follow for instruction on this technique.  While some say that these trance states are all about connecting to the whole, here it is all about being just a lone entity in the endless void of the planes.  For some, that’s horrifying.  For others, it’s soothing, simply being alone in your own space without the need to worry about outside torments.  However, a dark side was discovered within these meditations.  Those who become stuck for too long risk an ironic fate, they’re simply lost within the trance short of intensely powerful magic.  Their bodies become eternally preserved mummies that’ll never shrivel or decay; locked in time.  For someone so devoted to breaking obsession and addiction, this revelation is especially horrifying to Pure-in-Progress.

 

And there you have it, some of my escapades within the Upper Planes, beyond the ones covered before.  As always, my purpose is to make note of subjects and places not yet documented by other explorers, even though some of my notes came up lacking.  Perhaps I shall share my take on places previously told by storyteller and author alike.  But, another day.  In the meantime, let me plan for a true journey into the Inner Planes!  Primordium was only the beginning.

 

 

ART CREDIT: mfaithart – Heavenly Realms; Tony DiTerlizzi – Mt. Celestia, Bytopia, Beastlands, Arborea ; Olly Lawson – Elysium

 

One thought on “Ramon’s Guide to Realms of Goodness

  1. Pingback: Recommended Links, June 2, 2020 – Jon Bupp

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