The search for all that the elements have to offer continues. To put things simply, the elemental planes converge into their own realms of sorts. These fusions act as elemental planes in their own rights, the para-elemental as they are known. In addition, I can’t help but research some hypothetical planar fusions that come up in various lectures and notes across the planes. Someone’s idea of a practical joke? A sinister piece of the chant? Who knows? Either way, there is knowledge to find!
Author’s Note: The Inner Planes. Yeah, you gotta stretch the imagination a bit. All the same, I hope this thought exercise proves you can mold something out of a tough template. Hopefully, you’ll find some inspiration too. Though, not necessarily references to say /tg/ classic lore, DOOM or Warhammer or many other things either. Also, shout out to The Pathology Guy, whose take on the Inner Planes has been a large inspiration for me.
Para-Elemental Plane of Ice
A frozen wasteland where everything above and below is solid water. Careful, I wouldn’t try to lick it though. Plus, there is far more than just water captured within the endless ice. Creatures of ages past have found themselves frozen and preserved in the ground and jutting ice spires, even deep within frigid caves.
One place that has become a sensation for Cager Merchants is the Garden of Frozen Thoughts. Have you ever heard of the term “brain freeze”, this “garden” takes this quite literally. The garden itself is composed of a gate of symmetrical spires, all interlocking and weaving into a marvelous fence of sorts. Inside cannot be described as vegetation, by glowing chunks of ice; all displaying wide arrays of color. If grasped for extended time, carefully, one can envision a thought that was lost from a visitor. However, should a traveler spend too much time in the garden, their mind will begin to slow in a fit of confusion. Following that, one of their thoughts will be lost, manifesting it its own ice chunk. Even stranger, attempts to bring the thought back into their head will fail. Even attempting to activate the thought won’t work. This doesn’t stop all sorts of prospectors from mining the garden in a sense to sell all sorts of potentially useful thoughts to people, packaged in never melting ice. Many of these sold off bits work as table pieces, while some keep them as a source of inspiration. After all, a single thought can go far. If words can literally freeze, then this garden proves that almost anything can.
The Ascending Peaks is a fascinating anomaly, as not only does it bridge both Air and Water, but it holds numerous pockets of Earth as well. Stretching from the Sea of Frozen Lives, where Water is most prominent to the Precipice. The top of the plane or the precipice begins to reach towards the elemental plane of air. It is here that a snowy skyline can be seen far above the icy ground. It is here that the hungering lurkers have been known to float. For those of Terra, they call them the Children of Ithaqua, Ancient One of Winter Winds. For others, they are but a different type of another foul spirit, The Wendigo. By some particularly odd means, hovering wendigo find themselves drawn to the Para-Elemental Plane of Ice, particularly the top precipice layer. While many idly drift upon the freezing winds, others let out their chilling cry as they seek out prey. The temporary nature of ice tunnels does not bother these wendigo, as they can dig whole new ones in an instant, usually in the pursuit of some fleshy outsider. The whipping winds from above sometimes catch into these caverns, allowing even quicker travel for the ravenous spirits. As for the amazing mountain itself? The creatures’ primary sources of congregating. Many unsuspecting fools prepared for the powers of Ice, but still met their fated feast at the hands of these planar wendigo.
The Temple of the Forgotten Frost resides hidden deep within the compact ice and snow of this elemental domain. As to the deity it was dedicated to? Some suspect pilgrims from the alternate prime realm of Nerath dedicated it to the Raven Queen. Unbeknownst to them, an equivalent could have existed but is gone. Its dormancy only made it more in like with the plane itself, as pillars began to glisten like true ice and the floors lost their friction. Altars depict a black bird born from ice, which leads prior theories to be correct. However, a defaced icon of some deific White Dragon provides other suggestions. Legends do tell of a very intelligent Power stricken down by countless others of Draconic pantheons, leaving white dragons in despair and ignorance. While mostly unused, there lies a portal created more recently right in the center of the holy chamber. Its destination? The Desecrated Citadel resting within Acheron! While there are many layers to a vast conspiracy involving Wee Jas, the Oerthian Goddess of Death, this adds all the more intrigue. Some suggest that the Bladeling gatherings sometimes congregate here though. Curiously, there is yet another gate at what would have been the entrance to this secret shrine. This one leads to the Winter Court of the Good Kingdom. As to what Wild Fey would want with the former site of a Power? This should probably be a cause for concern. The knowledge of the fallen sanctum even extends to Prince Rolan the Deathless, but his connections to the Winter Court Fey likely explain this.
Para-Elemental Plane of Magma
At least the Plane of Fire had some level of solid flooring. Now, take that, make it earthier and melt it. In my travels, I heard of a youth game in which “the floor is lava” and one must hop around to avoid it. This is literally true within this plane, everything is built from lava in a sense. In places that connect towards other planes, it has cooled down enough and hardened, but make little mistake of it being any less hot.
Volcaanic is not a misspelled name, it is the name of a burg populated by a variety of fiery and flame resistant earthy creatures. Through tribe elders, they’ve sculpted magma putty into their own somewhat crude looking structures and foundations jutting out of the churning and burning ocean. While they’re more so seen deeper in the burning earth, the lava children have also made their home within these fascinating little place. House Zolkraneshk, an Azer clan, has made a name for themselves and their home by creating a powerful forge for all sorts of incredible items. Often, they privately distribute within a planar network or to the Dao, but they have been known to deal with outsiders who prove themselves to their clan. These tasks are often daunting, involving feats of great strength and survival against the plane’s worst conditions; including the awful fumes coming from the magma. Around the border to Vapor, these fumes are particularly noxious. For those who do prove themselves, they’re happy to make protective gear for not just this plane, but others as well. Of course, the commission fees deter many away.
Now, as for how this burg got its name? That’s from its true owner, a mutated red dragon. Multrudxkia is not the dragon’s true name, but what she has adopted for eons. Her true name is likely lost to the ages. At one point, she was bonded to a Githyanki soldier in service to the Lich Queen. However, a raid upon a diplomatic spelljammer vessel bound for a githyanki outpost caused something in her mind to snap. The will and bond of the lich queen no longer made sense, as she tricked her mounted combatant, devoured him and fled from wildspace and into the Inner Planes, where an isolated pocket of magma suited nicely. The damaging magic used by retaliating gith as well as the plane’s own power changed her to be more in line with more “primal” looking dragons found upon the Inner Planes. Disguised as the founding tribe elder, she helped forge a society all her own, as it makes sense to her. You might wonder, are red dragons not creatures of evil? Creations of the Chromatic One! And yes, you’re correct! However, she is more than kind and welcoming to those within her “lair”. As for everything else? Should she find you, she will kill you without mercy, using all in her power to hunt you down and make you fear. And should you approach her first with purpose for being in her land, she’s more likely to toy with you and send you into blatantly dangerous situations. Unlike the Azar of House Zolkraneshk, the intent is to also kill you. But, those her earn her respect are treated well, much like the residents. However, the relationship between this strange founder and her people is more like that of pets and an owner. It’s often her people that convince her not to hunt down an outsider, much to her reluctance and chagrin.
Of all places, one wouldn’t consider the name of the Hag Countess to be relevant here. But, all the same, it is. Inching closer towards Plane of Sand is the Shards Labyrinth. This artificial pocket of glass was a layer to the former Infernal Court ruler. It was here that awful experiments were conducted through forging glass. As it is, one can see burnt bodies impaled all over the glassy maze. In the center lies an arcane laboratory, built from warm rock, hardened magma and of course glass. Simply alien looking equipment is sheltered with blood-colored stain-glass walls. All means of alchemy, alteration, hex craft and divination were practiced here. Despite lacking maintenance, the place looks as if she never left it. This doesn’t mean it lacks security. Explosive glass orbs hover, shooting shards and exploding into shrapnel in the worst situations. Likewise, armies of mutilated ashen goblins patrol the grounds; all of them looking like they’ve been sliced up to a degree. As for the maze itself, it shifts and toys with any visitors who dare visit. Is it fully sentient? Unsure, but it carries a level of awareness. And for those who cheat? It seems to delight in spearing them, shooting chipped pieces and doing whatever it can to mutilate whoever doesn’t follow its contradictory rules. But worst enchantment comes from the reflection of the victim. Anyone who stares too long risks creating a dark double, who leaps from the makeshift mirror and attacks their target. The double lasts until killed or its target dies.
Para-Elemental Plane of Ooze
The filthiest and nastiest of elemental planes, as dangerous as it is disgusting. Vitriol and toxicity rule the day here, as even the ground is viable to dissolve you. Plus, even the worst sinuses will be overwhelmed by the sheer miasma that clogs up the plane. Only the most desperate blight-monger would ever visit this place willingly.
Miss Yech’lu-volch’s Academy of Toxicity is by far one of the most surreal things to ever discover upon the planes. Here, a banished demodand or gehreleth… at least, I think it’s one, teaches the art of being a terrible person. As for the fiend in question, Yech’lu-volch is both tall and disproportionately bloated; clad in drab top and dress, comically oversized spectacles for her (their?) beady eyes and an infused head of hair that stands up like a tall shrub. Students from across the planes enroll in this vile academy, where they learn techniques of abuse, torment and general nastiness. Classes range from verbal to physical forms of awful behavior, ranging from bullying to pure destruction. And the oddest of all, the foul sludge and grossness of the plane empowers and fuels the establishment. Instead of hindering visitors, it helps them. And thus, the name for the school is both figurative and literal. As to what this fiend is scheming? All that is known is that once her little terrors are unleashed upon the multiverse, reality only suffers to become a worse place. Perhaps it’s to create fuel for more of demodand kind to be spawned from. Though, anyone who would willingly enroll in such a sickening institution was likely evil to a degree already. And entrants need not be youth either, many adults find themselves drawn to this dark excuse for education.
The Hazards Refinery is not of this plane. Or at least, it wasn’t originally. Its origins are alien to most parts of the prime, but it has its roots in the world of Terra. At some point in time, an invasion of extraplanar forces were defeated, but not before parts of the doomed timeline were blasted across reality. This planar linked station found itself here, where it samples the various awful sewage and sludge of the plane for energy; mostly fuels and various other products. The facility has since been overrun by extradimensional evils that use the plane to power their own means though. Even the natives greatly dislike this and are willing to help destroy the place. That said, should a group of adventurers clear the facility out, enough technical prowess could allow it to become a good resource for a while. However, a new threat has begun to take notice of this industry building. Where does it hail from? I’m glad you hypothetically asked.
The Scurrying Pits are a series of foul places, linked by networks of short cavern tunnels, much like the rest of the plane. However, aspects of earth are far more prominent, in fact this might be a border on the Plane of Earth side of things! Within the slimy caverns of this domain contains a fine mineral charged with a “radiant” power. The things that harvest such a power are disfigured rodent-like creatures that revere the magical rock as if it were a god. When applied to the pits of slime, they create fonts of unspeakable magical power. Such raw power fuels their pursuits and fell rituals. And more frightening, captured outsiders dunked into the glowing solution for extended time meet a doom worse than death. Besides the spawning warrens deep in the pits, the sludge can creates new rodent horrors. But, what is their plan? Currently, they seek control of the plane itself. Through venerating their sacred rock, they can overthrow other powers as well as seize control of various slimes and oozes along the way. As it is, their priesthood finds themselves to be carriers of dreadful plagues, which the species itself is mostly immune to. Should they find a vortex out, with the help of their precious stone, the multiverse could face certain peril. But, what-what do I know? Am just a man-thing!
Para-Elemental Plane of Smoke
Thank the survival suits for this one. Thankfully, they’ve entered the manufacturing state on some off-space factory. But, enough wildspace, let’s talk of the Smoke. A mixture of super heated gasses and smoggy wisps, one could mistake this plane for the interior of gaseous giants within a crystal sphere. But, much like one of these worlds, exploration is intimidating and dangerous. So, let’s strap on that safety gear and get floating. Besides the burning effects of the blazing air, the terrible stench is said to be as strong as a stinking cloud. Though, with much of the plane filled with breathable air, thanks to the Plane of Air, it can be survivable with right precaution… if sooty and gross, without the right filters… Hmm, I’ll stop trying to promote the Survival Suits for now, I promise.
Of all trades to flourish on the plane, one wouldn’t suspect a market of narcotics. The Burning Coals is a black airship always mobile through the virtually solid-free plane. Usually sailing and hiding between burning clouds, it’s not easy to spot the mighty craft. This massive vessel is home to all sorts of laboratories, testing stations and merchant portals dedicated to one thing: drugs. The baron of this operation is a former Cager by the name of Mordecai Johnathan Fisk II, a disgraced “noble” who was an active part of the Lady’s Ward. He fled after some conflict exposed his father for corruption, causing him to seek new direction. Besides being a bit dirtied up by the plane, his attire maintains its flamboyance and commanding personality through a mixture of poncy noble frills and ruffs upon straight-laced military inspired garb. The flying ship’s crew doesn’t just double for his immoral empire, they’re also highly knowledgeable on the upkeep and sailing of The Burning Coals. This isn’t to excuse them from their willingness to craft addictive substances. As it should come as little surprise, many of the energies of Smoke are taken for both the creation process and for the ingredients… somehow. Plus, the cover of a burning cloudy blanket deters investigators. As for how such knowledge passed onto me? The underworld of The Hive has its ways of passing things on. However, being jumped and questioned by the burning coals crew was not part of the plan. It seems that those they get bored of though, they simply walk the plank.
Of all the creatures to rescue me, it was harvesters enslaved by the efreeti. Those who haven’t broken away to the hidden empire of Ehkahk, the Smoldering Duke, find themselves captured once again. And even then, the Paraelemental Lord is no friend of any slave, ensuring a life almost as unsatisfactory. In terms of smoke harvesting, just because Fisk II does it the best doesn’t mean others have avoided trying. Even those who aren’t enslaved sift through the soot to find something worthwhile, seeking out something to use for magic or treasure or something else entirely. A ballooning company found within Bytopia has made many successful strides in collecting the smoke to utilize for their “hot air balloons”, as they call them. They’re part of the rescue force that patrols the plane, mind you. Such a wondrous invention! In fact, they’ve inspired a religious group of people that believe flight should be achieved through ingenuity and creativity, over “cheating” through use of wings. The Church of Man-Made Flight is rather odd, they also discuss inventing flying machines that have their own metal wings… doesn’t that go against the point of their existence? But, enough on balloons, let us talk Bytopian safety techniques. Through a means of ritual, artifice and research of the planes itself; they have perfected methods to ensure smoke collecting is done far easier and safer. Even the Efreeti have reluctantly purchased them for their slave labor. However, these proved ineffective against one unfortunate resident of the plane.
The Firelich is a creature typically seen in Wildspace. But, for when the failed undead horror isn’t done with trying to enhance or end their horrible existence, they find themselves jumping into other realms by strange and unknown means. While the few in the Plane of Fire are dealt with by the Efreeti, the ones that find themselves here are mostly ignored. Even Fisk’s Burning Coals crew has had much trouble in doing more than evading them. The screaming heads seem to be pushed and directed by the equally hot drafts that whirl around the vast plane. This tragic villain looks to destroy all that comes into its hate-filled path. While most of these victims are often innocent miners, more evil prospectors have found their rightful end by the screaming face of the firelich. Some variants have even formed to better reflect the nature of the plane itself. Such mad mages have been exploited to a shadowy legion of undead called the “Choking Souls” as a means of keeping all away from their secret enclaves. This vague cabal has done little in direct action, but it begs the question how active they’ve been in planar background meddling.
Pseudo-Elemental Plane of Sand
The first of two widely debated elemental planes. Simply put, the application of Air and Earth results in stone eroded and ground into fine powder, sand. One might think, doesn’t this sound like the Negative Elemental Plane of Dust? Not entirely. This plane is neutral in terms of positive and negative sources. However, it is admittedly connected to it and it’s possible to gain access from here. An artificial light seems to always keep the sprawling desert at least pretty warm, but never oppressively so. There is also no night time. Much like Pelion in Arborea, this mostly vacant place can be dangerous, as discovering resources is highly unlikely without a hint of luck. And even then, it’s usually from an outside presence. And curiously, standing in one place too long causes the endless sand to try to pull you under, to a horrible suffocating demise. Wards and protections stop this though.
Crazed Karim’s Farm of Camels is an impossible “burg” of sorts that somehow sits within this equally impossible plane. It’s run by a barmy who might be a secret genius. His features tell of an ordinary man of deep tan complexion, but also a smile that literally glows. His terms are simple, you pay a nominal fee to rent a special “planar camel” to help travel the plane. Upon the time finishing, the camel teleports back to the farm. That said, there really isn’t much of a market for anything in this plane. So, he probably has lost it. All the same, that hasn’t stopped him from getting into Sigil and even the Prime to advertise his wild scheme. Does he think this is actually a success? Unknown. I can’t understand much about him to begin with. And somehow, you find yourself in a contract after speaking to this mystery man. How does he do it? How does he evade immunities to charms? Why do you need a camel? Uncertain! But, in some cases, you can spend more to purchase a camel for your own needs. From what I understand, they are just mundane camels.
Touching upon the border of the Plane of Earth is the Carved Steppes. This place has series of flat rock plates stacked upon each other in seemingly endless succession. And strangely enough, these basins have grass growing upon them… Something that should be impossible for an otherwise barren and dry wasteland. Some crossover with the plane of earth can be found here, at least as far as elemental creatures are concerned. With protection from the sandy gusts, one can find this to be quite the place of reflection and meditation. Alternatively, it can provide a great place to build a secret hideaway. By an accident of psionic backlash, a troop of mercenaries from the red sun world of Athas found themselves upon this “seemingly made up” elemental plane. At first, they thought they were merely brought to another part of their world, where vision of the sky is mostly blotted out. Perhaps even a fabled oasis, with a minimal amount of water appearing somehow. A few died from the onset panic, but eventually their own stronghold was forged through strength and mind. Likewise, resources were obtained from a mixture of mentally pulling things to them as well as hunting some of the strange lifeforms to emerge from the sand. Among the most popular? Dread Worm! They’re extremely hostile towards most outsiders, but they have caches of incredible artifacts from the world of the dark sun.
What of elemental crossover? Towards the realm of air, land simply cuts off into a massive cliff with a sandstorm awaiting below. Not exactly a joyous matter. However, traveling too far towards Earth might accidentally take a turn towards magma. How does this work out? Even this provides a solid mystery to yours truly. But, when the blowing sand turns cinder-like, you know you are going the wrong way. But, at least the switch to the Para-Elemental Plane of Magma gives far more warning before a vortex jump. The switch to the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Dust is seemingly instant, but the overbearing feeling of Negative Power takes a moment to kick in. But, those those looking for a piece of familiarity without things turning too lethal, Sand even connects to Water! Its own little fusion pocket resembles a beach with a consistent tidal level. Of course, stepping too far in the water sucks one into the Plane of Water. So, do be careful! None the less, it’s nice to break away from constant dust storms and enjoy a day of at the beach, no?
Pseudo-Elemental Plane of Vapor
Another besmirching of my connections with academia! But, truth shall be uncovered regardless! This other possible plane is Vapor, the mixture of Fire and Water. … Much like it’s counter-part, there is a connection to a positive/negative plane. In the case of Vapor? Only Steam would make sense! In fact, save for the positive influence, it’s a bit hard to tell the difference at times. But, yours truly will make a modest attempt at it! In my opinion, the names with Quasi-Elemental Plane of Steam should be switched, but that’s just me. At least the positive energy version is far less humid, as this one is exhaustively so. As for the layout of this plane? Cool ground emits a somewhat warm steam, not overly capable of scolding nor of chilling. All around, this is by far one of the most mild planes in existence. However, ground abruptly ends, leading into a misty demise until the next plot of land cushions or hardens your fall. As one would expect, visibility is consistently poor here. As one gets closer to Steam though, visibility brightens, but not exactly for the better. And for Smoke? Everything becomes hotter, as fires begin to kick up. Either way, best protect yourself or you’ll find yourself choking or even worse.
The Sauna at the End of the Planes is not a place of commerce, but a small religious hub that has opened to visitors. Here, priests of many types would congregate to release their worldly tensions and drain themselves of hostilities. However, since opening up, it has become a rehabilitative rest stop for travelers who have braved the scolding vapor mists. But, the temperatures here feel much more subdued, but magically so. In fact, several entrances to this place intentionally link to various temples on the Prime. For many a cleric, it’s still a well kept secret. Also, word of mouth on this is surprisingly slow. Maybe for that reason, the exception for travelers is still available. Wait till the crowds move in, then we’ll see if they still maintain that decision. It has its own connection to the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Steam, being almost literally at the plane’s border. In hindsight, the name is even more brilliant.
The Temple of the Vaporized Soul has its roots in the mysterious lands of The Mists. More specifically, this is the last stand of a Dukkar who escaped the mist with nefarious purpose. While not all Vistani men cursed with The Gift are doomed to a dark existence, most are. This pseudo-elemental plane has a dark secret, The Mists slightly creep into it, making an easy segue for fools seeking to enter the dark world or for rogue vistani to seek a way out. In the case of one, Jogero the Swift, he discovered the gate in his search for revenge against his people. His travels lead him to Darkon, where he uncovered a well secured trove belonging to Azalin himself. This lead him to plan an awful scheme almost on par with the Grand Conjunction. In short, split the very essence of the Vistani people partially out of the Lands of the Mists, so that they may suffer in eternal pain. Assembling the means to enact his ritual, he gathered the sources to conjure and enchant a stone temple hovering by the Misty Gate. Upon readying to enact it from the other side, The Mists themselves intervened, causing the effect to solely target him. While people spoke of his prophecy and his wickedness, it’s more so his failure that is recognized. His body is lost somewhere to mist, while he soul screams in eternal torment within the confines of his accidental tomb. Those who dare enter it bare witness to an essence locked in eternal anguish… and the pull of The Dark Powers, attempting to take them away to a horrible realm. Rumor has it that a parallel Elemental Plane can be accessed through here, one of Mists rather than Vapor. Also, recall the Choking Souls? They’ve taken up residence here, perhaps to little surprise. What little information on them exists also suggests that they’re familiar with The Mists as well.
On the subject of Elemental Crossing, there is the tale of The Jerky Killer. Quite simply, this is a human whose magic allowed him to not only survive the plane of fire, but become something of a somewhat immortal being. How did this come about? His team couldn’t say, as they didn’t survive the ordeal. And being alone for so long, the isolation got to him, he refuses to talk much with potential victims. His name comes from the burnt and dried flesh that makes him look like a mummy of sorts, crossed with smoked meat. The roving adventurer has been driven mad by his plight, seeking to slay any living creature (especially human) and skin them, in hopes of feeling normal again. His inability to properly die (without reanimating a day later) further pushes this. To him, the chance to look normal will grant him final piece. As to whether or not he’s an undead is unknown. While he looks quite similarly, people have compared him to a dream apparition capable of slaying others in their sleep. Thankfully, he does not have this power. He has no set location, but instead wanders the plane in search of a final wish that will never come. The easiest way to find and avoid this monster is to listen for raspy groans and forced wheezing. However, when one hears these noises, it might be too late.
And with those many tales, a look into more of the elements! Worry not, more notes are being prepared for my greatest expedition into the quasi-elements of positive and negative! This should be interesting.
IMAGE CREDIT: Tony DiTerlizzi – Cloud Elemental