Ramon’s Guide to the Inner Planes

The inner planes | Fantasy map making, Sigil, Astral plane
Details on more comes later!

Circling the prime are realms where natural life is abundant, even the opposite is present too! This is the circle of the Inner Planes. Looping forms of elements dancing endlessly, the fabric of natural matter locked in a glorious display. So, why not explore them? A novel idea, and what better host for such an adventure? If I do say so, myself. Follow my mad scribblings and even madder musings as we quest to see the workings of the Inner Planes, uncovering many secrets and hidden goodies along the way.

A word of warning, many of the inner planes are truly primal. You feared the forces of the Outer Planes, but many of these are broken into base primordial essences. And no, I don’t mean like Primordium; such a strange place is still rather dangerous in its own right. I talk of the place that gave the inspiration to build Primordium in the first place! It’s amazing how something so simple can be so awe inducing. To me, those are the Elemental Planes. Let us not dally.  Admittedly, my venture to the Upper Planes lasted quite a while, the better part of many primer yearly calendars. So, do stay close and protect yourself against the correct force, one of many elemental vortexes are just a jump away!

Author’s Note: Before we continue, because I don’t say it enough, a big thanks to Todd Stewart for being a huge inspiration.  His work in pathfinder’s planar content gets a nod from me partially because of it!  While I doubt I’ll ever really jump back to Paizo, I can appreciate the work the some of the people over there are doing.  Besides, I’m more so feeling Cyberpunk 2020 or one of many other seemingly relevant dystopian games for this day and age…  Anyway, jokes and other topics aside, the Inner Planes always felt like they needed more to them.  The Inner Planes book itself jokes about this while giving some neat suggestions, but I want to add my own touch.  Hell, it calls out the people who aren’t imaginative enough to make those planes work.  I’ve seen too many silly complaints about the Inner Planes too, in part because it puts your mind in a challenge…  Anyway, here are the results of my own elemental plane challenge.  Well, part of them.  I have much more where this came from!

 

 

Side Trek: The Outlands

This isn’t the Inner Planes, you must be saying!  And you would be right.  This is because a detour must be made to keep the elements from devouring me.  May as well take in a few interesting details along the way, yes?  With that, let’s take a brief look at the Concordant Opposition, The Outlands!  Here is arealm of utmost neutrality, a middle ground for many and a less extreme meeting point for various Outer Planes.  It’s partially this reason that the Gate Towns exist.  I’ll get to them some day, but first, a little look at ideology.

Residing in a symmetrical series of buildings is an emerging sect, whose philosophy is creating and maintaining a balance within all forces of the multiverse.  This is the aptly named Act of Balance, or “The Centrists”.  Much like the Mercykillers, they are a unity of two different groups; the Balance of Neutrality and The Neutralizers.  The former prefers to take approaches that keep a calm and steady status quo, while the latter likes direct approach to combating all ideology including through extreme violence.  Their united goal is to undermine and take influence away from almost all sides of the argument.  They try to steer away from violent methods, attempting other methods of subversion to stop or sometimes sabotage a faction or influence gaining too much power.  As shocking as it might be to some, the Rilmani are the force behind this sect’s creation.  While they don’t openly act within the group, their influence in neutrality-as-an-absolute is felt and known.  At times, the centrists have appealed to moderate groups and to opposition as a means of stopping a rising power.  Other times, they have allowed direct approaches when the former would prove too risky.  Ultimately, they don’t seem to be above truly unspeakable measures to destroy an “aligned faction”, as they call them.  The dark speaks of survivors of an emerging sect looking their way into Sigil, only to be stomped down by The Act of Balance.  Survivors tell that their good intentions lead them from Elysium, where they still hide in secret.  Their goal was spreading general beliefs in progress and extreme change.  Now, they want to regroup, still unaware of what hit them.  I dare not pry too deep or go much further on any of this.

As mentioned before, many powers resent association with The Beastlands.  The Otherworld is one of the neutral points where many congregate.  In some ways, it resembles a mistier and warped version of incredible natural vistas within the Prime Material, however this “spirit world” is far different.  Strange lights, distortions in the plants and earth and more split this off from the mundane.  Trickster spirits like the Jogah have found themselves to rest here, sometimes luring hapless wanderers into the otherworld.  In more desert-like biomes within the otherworld, the Needler waits for prey to suspect it’s nothing more than a cactus.  This variant is far less kindly, more than eager to hunt any meaty prey that wanders too close to it.  However, beyond some potential threats, many spirit beings manifest here.  A stranded shaman from the distant prime territory of Ethengar has made his home here, where he is well acquainted with the denizens of the land.  At the very least, he understands them.  He understood me too, asking why I gave a life of priesthood to pursue my passions in the bardic arts?  I never left the Powers, I still hold them in respect.  However, many of the Powers left me.  And thus, my relationship is casual.  The spirit shaman understood this, helping me along my way as well.

From a realm of life, to a realm of death.  While the Dimension of Death isn’t found upon the Outlands, the way to it can be.  Cemetery is but the lead in to the ever sprawling graveyard that greets visitors to that realm.  It is here where neutral powers over death can sometimes oversee wandering souls on their jump to the afterlife.  More often than not, the neutral race of the psychopomp often stands guard, lest a living soul accidentally find its way in.  Some say a Power by the name of Pharasma is known to visit this space, even though she hails from one of the many Prime worlds locked behind fabric of reality.  Stone and bone form an archway portal at the end of Cemetery, beckoning awaiting souls to their destiny.  Unworthy living meddlers are often chased away.

Ah, what I came here for!  The Traveler’s Inner Soul!  The name, it’s a pun of sorts, you see!  No matter, this roaming giant wagon is decorated with ornate and flamboyant elemental motifs, much like the wagon owner.  It magically travels all across the Outlands and sometimes Primordium, in hopes of travelers equally invested in the Elemental Planes.  The owner himself claims to have been to the Prime as well as Sigil.  I wouldn’t doubt it.  None the less, he specializes in charms, protections and enchanted items; all with a heavy endurance to them.  Services aren’t cheap, but they’re trusted and known to many a traveler.  He has told me one secret though, particularly bad customers receive flimsy wares and magicks, often leading to their dooms.  Worst of all, he says this with a wicked grin.  Rest assured, I wish the roaming merchant no harm.  With provisions set, it’s off to adventure!

 

 

The Elemental Plane of Air

Like all the planes of the elements, this one needs not much introduction.  From here, the freshest air can be breathed… as your lungs are filled to capacity from falling forever.  But, that need not be the case.  With a simple spell or twist of an artifact, you gently float amidst the eternal sky.

Mad Hul, short for Hulyalmn, is a fallen angel (or aasimon) who is forever confined to the air plane.  What dastardly act was committed?  Unknown.  However, the mad celestial spends his time granting enchantments of wings to those willing to receive them.  Granted, if you can’t reach the vendor to begin with, the point is null.  But, he is indeed referred to as mad.  He’s an unsurprisingly good conversationalist with an ever charming demeanor.  However, discussion of his fall reveals his darker temper.  Often, he’ll remove the enchanted wings from a customer, sans refund, and remove any enchantments that would help them survive the plane of air.  Save for that, he still had a good heart within him, seemingly.

The Living Cloud is a truly marvelous piece of strange within the air plane.  Its origins come from a cabal of elementalists in devotion to Yan-C-Bin, the Evil Elemental Prince of Air.  Sampling a piece of Water and melding it through strong magic, they created living clouds capable of swarming and choking trespassers.  However, their magic proved too good, as the clouds became aware of the evil ways of their masters and turned on them.  Now the peaceful hovering giants just travel around aimlessly.  They rarely attack unless provoked, but they essentially become more of a hazardous terrain than a monster in that regard, no?

Dove Loft, burg of cheeky names and cheap goods.  This burg is the result of another barmy mage… isn’t it always?  The long and short, they created an abomination called the Flying Failure, a humanoid with a pigeon head.  By some means, they’ve become the primary population of this burg.  However, this version of the race is far from stupid.  Plus, their ability to fly by flailing their arms seems more graceful.  The layout of the area seems to carry a birdhouse type of motif, complete with roosting poles and circular openings (with doors though).  It’s quite the kooky experience for that alone.  As for the name, it was coined by one of the few other planars to supposedly escape The Mists, who currently resides as the “Mayor” of this strange hub.  Should this be false, he would have had to hear about The Mists from some greybeard, plus the Dread Castle, in order to tell such a tale.  Through magic, he too has a pigeon head now.  As for the jink square itself?  Mostly consisting of common goods, with a number of specialty items made by the residence.  Should you favor the slightly off and desire a safe place to rest, there is far worse than such a place.

 

 

Elemental Plane of Earth

The Plane of Earth, where dirt, mineral and ground is what is above, below and all around.  Cave-ins are common as new means of travel seem to appear soon after, mostly from outside intervention.  Otherwise, you have a plane of solid matter where little light emerges, save for the occasional glowing gemstone lodged deep within.  Save for the Dao, few have had luck with delves into this ever deep earth.

Few is operative, but that hasn’t deterred Clan Strickensteel, many of which are devoted to a Dwarven Goddess of Crafts and Construction, Adzaa Maruar.  Few of the actual dwarves appear on these excursions.  Instead, they send incredible constructs to do most of the mining.  This isn’t to say that Strickensteel doesn’t care about their craft.  In fact, should something happen to one of their constructs, excavators will do all in their power to salvage and repair the fallen contraption.  For decades, this was the only issue for this mining operation.  However, the introduction of a gold-consuming parasitic monster changed all of that… especially when the creature adapted taste for other materials.  At first, it was unintentionally helpful for creating tunnels.  Eventually, it gained a taste for the very materials that built up the constructs.  As such, more dwarf presence has been stationed on sight as of late.

Death Sculpt in Clay is a macabre outlier for the Plane of Earth.  It isn’t so much a building or a company, so much as a necromancer’s deranged art project.  The Plastered Creep was said to be a natural cause within the planes, but that’s a lie.  Their creation is through direct intervention.  A mixture of elemental and necromantic magics has carved out this madman’s humble abode, lined with “statues” of contorted and disfigured bodies throughout.  His dream is to fill the whole plane with them, creatures beyond life that can endure the worst the plane has to offer.  As to what caused this revelation/vanity concept gone too far?  It’s the fault of Sigil’s own Believers of the Source.  While her name isn’t known, this elusive dark mage was once a member.  However, something dreadful happened while she did work within the Harbinger House that she will never elaborate on.  Something from there drove her both barmy and inspired this project.

A great deal of “planter’s initiative” bashers running around the Cage have spawned a chant of their own.  Before I continue, you might wonder what they’re even about.  Well, they’re a rogue group of planars and primes who want to spruce up the dismal nature of the City of Doors, adding a touch of green beyond the razorvine.  Most assume them to be idealistic berks, while others barmy.  While not an organized faction, their actions have run afoul of the Dabus a number of times.  But, onto their mystery dirt!  They say that the “richest soil a blood can get” is continuously taken from particularly nutrient-laced parts of the Plane of Earth.  You might ask, how does one infuse such into raw and untainted earth?  Simple, compost techniques, complete with dumping the bodies of stiffs into the heap as well.  The plane’s tendency to crush and ground up things only makes this easier.  If it helps, their enemies tend to be people who are diametrically opposed to cleaning up the environment in Sigil.  Simply put, most people don’t care, only a few hate the idea…  Mostly Sinkers and the occasional sneering technocrat.  Needless to say, they aren’t as harmless as people seem to think.

 

Elemental Plane of Fire

Ever bright and blinded, ever burning.  This is the Plane of Fire.  As one would expect, it’s unrelenting in how hot it feels.  Even the floor beneath you is endlessly ablaze.  In truth, this is the most dangerous of the base elemental planes.  And yet oddly enough, its gravity is the most normal compared to the others, even Earth!  Despite many protections from heat, the smoke can be choking and vision absolutely impaired.  And even then, the genies of this plane are perhaps the most dangerous too; well known for enslaving and selling those unfortunate enough to get too close.  This isn’t to say that the plane doesn’t have interesting sights.

Perhaps one of the most morbid vortexes of the elemental planes is the Charnal Gate.  This was originally envisioned by a funerary director as a means of giving a body a final voyage before cremation.  Her methods were to harness existing energies to create a makeshift vortex of sorts, controlled by a sacred icon.  The icons needed to access such a vortex had been stolen and replicated by truly vicious people.  The end result has caused temporary holes to open up for victims to be flung to a burning demise.  Rumor has it, a disgusting despot on a prime hordes and distributes them to his most trustworthy subordinates.  Since access is one way, this is not a way out of the Plane of Fire… at least until you discover the right means of tampering.  Should that occur, this crazed leader will receive a reckoning!

The Unending Smoldering Prisons is an often overlooked piece within the notorious City of Brass, perhaps for good reason.  This is a place of political prisoners, not slaves.  This secret layer was created after a great war and great deal of humiliation to the Efreeti.  Many were captured from the Primordium city of Gloamnull, while others were just captured by association.  A few Sinkers are stationed there.  Those kept in these burning vaults exist for sadistic torture.  While mostly hired forces brutalize the prisoners, several nobility among the efreeti have gained permission to abuse those kept here.  And even more horrific, since magical bonds keep prisoners from dying, the cruel and at times depraved acts have been known to extend to truly unfathomable lengths.  For them, it’s their twisted method of keeping themselves at peace with the other elemental planes and domains.  The whole inability to die truly enrages the sinkers stuck in the chamber, what with their beliefs in entropy prevailing.

Less grim curiosities have been found on the Plane of Fire as well.  A roaming giant ball is a rather refreshing diversion from the endless images of flame that fill one’s view.  Said ball is actually a barrier, vaguely akin to the protective borders around The City of Brass.  Within this rolling sphere is a hovering carnival of lively and flamboyant personalities.  To them, fire is the truest and rawest essence of life.  They all pay homage by rolling around the plane’s wasteland, acting and performing in tribute.  Granted, all of these residents within the orb have been touched by fire in some ways.  Some are sorcerers with the essence of flame, while others are creatures naturally immune to the greatest of deadly effects from their home.  None the less, they are a literal traveling circus of sorts.  However, their passion is in the arts, rather than just as entertainment.  But, they are happy to share their talents for any visitor brave enough to make it.  They are the Flickering Jubilation; a name more befitting of a religious order, but they are one in a non-strict sense.  None the less, trouble has followed them.  Recently, an acrobat was captured by a particularly conniving ultroloth, taking them back to their layer in Gehenna, for a solid ransom of course.  They themselves won’t enact in violence, but they aren’t above hiring help to get their lost member back safely by any means necessary.

Now discovery nearly ate me.  Much as gold eating parasites bog down the Plane of Earth at times, a heat-consuming beast has made its home here!  The Void Belly Beast is exactly such a creature.  This oafish and lumpy, almost dinosaur-like beast stumbles about consuming flames and heat simply by inhaling with its massive maw, connected to a large tube-like neck.  Its thick trunk limbs waddle and stumble as it slurps and crunches whatever hot meat awaits it.  While it shares the color scheme of the plane, there is no mistaking it, even from afar!  This creature doesn’t differentiate warm-blooded traveler from fires of the plane, so planewalkers do be careful!  All the more strange, despite its lively eating habits, its torso is cold to the touch; something that should be impossible for anything found upon the perpetual flames here!  In the defense of this creature, it is from some outside realm.  And given how it consumes heat so much, it could make some logical sense, at least in the sense of arcane science!  Truly, its resistance or even immunity to the plane must be something truly great.  It’s for this reason and other that the efreeti have assembled hunters, partially for prestige but mostly for extermination.

 

 

Elemental Plane of Water

Water, water, everywhere!  And yet, far too much to drink!  Welcome to the plane of water, where being dry is next to impossible.  All jokes aside, this plane is perfectly habitable if you’re capable of breathing in the water.  And for those who can adapt?  No major problem either.  While no sun exists, there’s a glimmer of greenish-blue light that keeps visibility available.  Keep your vision about you, pockets of bad water have their way of drifting in; tainted by filth, silty deposits and more.  Plus, watery predators are also right at home.

The Grove of Trees is a misnomer by all means, but in a sense still works.  This network of seaweed and other oceanic vegetation houses a sort of variant dryad born into and one with the water.  Here, these watery dryads freely travel between these oversized aquatic plants, much as a terrestrial one would.  To the locals, they’re the water spirits of the algae, kelp and the like.  Their relationship with much of the native life towards towards gentle and relaxed.  But, towards outsiders, they remain uptight and suspicious.  Few of these aquatic dryads have witnessed outsiders upon the plane of water before.  As such, they’ll take to their watery forests in hiding, observing all that these interlopers are up to.  But, those who can build trust are given a safe haven to hide it, even gain supplies from.  While they care little in trade, products from these incredible water plants are durable and quite useful in the water itself.  Several magical water breathing artifacts incorporate the oversized grasses and more into their design.  But, don’t mistake kindness for foolishness.  Those who seek to harvest the Grove will be met with sylvan wrath.  If that’s not enough for some, it is said that the grove contains several portals to aquatic realms within the wild lands of the good kingdoms.

Several dimensional barriers exist within the Plane of Water.  As mentioned above, the fey have their methods into here.  The shark people guarding the portal to Antorek’s more aquatic sectors should be a tip off as well.  However, one linked dominion should send dread and madness into the very soul of those who’d dare ponder it.  While within the Prime world of Terra, the sunken city of R’lyeh has echoes that bellow through the planes, even small rifts into the plane of water.   Within the city slumbers the great eldritch power of Cthulhu, caught deathly dreaming.  And with him comes countless other eldritch horrors.  In the event of his uprising, a small tear into the planes means that they’re already doomed.  And worse, when he awakens the others, their wrath too shall follow.  As it is, rumor states that the Dagon in the Abyss is a parallel of the ancient deep one king from Terra, projecting influence through not just the realm of demons, but the plane of water as well!  This could explain that the deep ones themselves can be found here!  As it is, several of the eldritch gods have already influenced the planes and other worlds of the prime even in their distance.  A scribe displaying the Yellow Sign provided much shock in a recent travel back to Toril, particularly Skullport…  But, Skullport hosts all sorts of negative types anyway.

Perhaps as ghastly is the whirling cluttered wrecks of sunken ships caught in the “Ghostly Sea Vortex”.  As the name implies, it’s a whipping funnel within the plane that whirls the very ships that met their demise at its grasp.  The eeriest part of this vortex is the malicious energy it carries, turning the wrecks into their very own ghost ships.  All means of vicious water beings and undead can be found close to this particularly dangerous attraction.  Should one feel brave in procuring lost treasure, they best be readied to battle turbulent water, reanimated crewmen and savage sea things; perhaps all at once.  But, for sea dweller or planar pirate alike, it may be perhaps one of the ultimate sites of high adventure.  One of the lost treasures within is said to be a chest of cursed coins capable of granting eternal life, but at a dreadful cost.  Many who claimed the coins found themselves stuck within the Ghost Vortex itself.  While it lacks The Mists, it almost feels like a domain within their grasp.  After all, there’s a sort of ironic fate awaiting those lured in by faults of greed and recklessness.

 

And with that, those are the base elements.  Mixtures and mutations only emerge from there.  And what of the Positive and Negative Energy Planes?  Are they truly elemental in their own right?  I’d certainly say so.  Though, many scholars would beg to differ.  Alas, these are tales for another time.

 

IMAGE CREDIT: Tony Di’Terlizzi – Inner Planes

Author: Doctor Necrotic

Hobbyist, amateur writer/screenwriter, wannabe-philosopher, music fan, history lover, cinemaphile, gamer, reviewer, and more. I'm a 30 year old hodgepodge of jobs and interests. My current projects on WordPress creating a wide variety of content for various tabletop roleplaying games, even showcasing published content here as well. When I have the time, I also create editorials and reviews spanning various bits of popular culture. I hope you take a moment to check my content out and maybe tell me what you think.

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