We have discussed all of this talk about fusion planes, however we have neglected two very influential and prominent parts of the Inner Planes, the Positive and Negative planes; forces of literal life and death. And, as you’d expect, they too have their own alterations of the various planes beyond. Travel forth if you dare, to witness lively and deathly versions of the elemental planes you know so well.
Author’s Note: I had to push things back. I was gonna do a huge list of elemental things, and probably have a bunch of monsters by now. But, I haven’t had the extra energy in me. Plus, I’ve already referenced plenty of canon and custom monsters in previous posts, so that helps. At the very least, with this one finished, I can create a bunch of cool elemental/inner planes themed monsters! My own Planescape Monstrous Appendix III of sorts, if you will! One last note, I have Negative Energy stuff split off into another post too. Don’t worry, I’ll pop up a few days later. I just needed to break things up… It might prove to be a better format, to be honest. And as always, classical and popular culture are mined and bastardized for idea fodder.
Positive Energy Plane
This is simply, the plane of life. From here, fonts of healing, animation and general existence spring from. However, this isn’t to say that a regular mortal could handle its awesome energies. On the contrary, someone who isn’t prepared risks exploding into pure positive energy from being overpowered. Such a death would be tragically ironic, except that energy is funneled into something else to create different life. Anyway, this plane and its dark twin are essentially a shell around the Inner Planes themselves. It’s no wonder that they touch the elements as well as our very own Prime Material. With that, let’s begin looking further.
For those only accepting a minimal amount of positive influence, the Reflection of Life is an intriguing place. To put it somewhat literally, it’s a warded off “burg” truly brought to life thanks to the plane. Within here, almost everything is vibrant and animated; clouds, flowers, buildings. Plus, many of these lifeforms have habits of engaging in song with each other. For those seeking a place of calm, they should no enter here. It’s a calamity that expresses and shows life in almost all possible forms. Some berks decry that it’s a colorful and cheerful version of Pandemonium or Limbo, meshed with the endless joy of Elysium, as many have gone insane from exposure to the saccharine vibrancy. For the slightly barmy with a sense of creativity and fun, it’s a sprawling wonderland of whimsy and magic, where everything can delight you with a story or even just a sound. I quickly had my fill. The whole experience is simply uncanny.
On the other side of things, we take a look briefly at the realm of Irian. Within the Prime world of Eberron, their expression/variant for Positive Energy is best known as the Birthplace of Life and Souls. It is here that the Deathless are most well known, quasi-undead like beings that take from Positive Energy rather than Negative Energy. This isn’t to say all were good. One Deathless found himself banished so deeply, he was sucked into a void beyond his part of the Material. Drifting for ages, he eventually found the right path to the Positive Energy Plane. Despite being shunted off into the planes, he now works without interruption of judgement. His reason for banishment? Heinous and bizarre experiments with life energy. It is in his hidden laboratory that he gets to work, compiling and creating all means of impossible abominations and creative new creatures. While he isn’t completely evil, he clearly has little regard for the consequences of his mad magicks. Luckily, none of his odd works have broken free from his lair…. yet. But, more than anything, he seems to seek a friend who understands the passion and meaning behind his craft. Maybe that’s why I was spared. And his name for all who dare to visit? The Deathless Vivimancer, at least that’s his “official” title.
Religions have a habit of changing and shifting on the planes. This is all too true of a spiritual group built upon mindful observation and self care. Their name is lost to the planes, save for their new title, The Positivity Cult. Something unknown warped the minds those who leapt into the realm of positive energy. It changed their focus and entire modes of thought to be around mindless happiness. Through belief, their Palace of the Sacred Exuberance was formed. Its structure has a look that’s soft, unimposing and absolutely inviting. However, feelings of natural comfort end at the door. Everything inside is a lesson in the uncanny; all that is good taken too lengths that the Upper Planes would be uncomfortable by. This is positivity, hope and wholesomeness as interpreted by utter aliens. And those who commune within, nothing more than smiling zombies and maniacal cultists seeking to turn others into such. While one should take to the wider planes and gain knowledge, such a place should be avoided; lest the Bliss of Elysium prove to be Mind Rot in a Carcerian prison.
The Quasi-Elements are, simply put, elemental planes touched by positive and negative energy. For the purposes of these notes, let’s focus on the positive ones for now.
Quasi-Elemental Plane of Lightning
As one would expect, this is a dimension of endless electricity. In all directions of this spacious realm, bolts of energy surge and fly! In fact, it’s improbably that you won’t be struct by something. Logically speaking, wearing metal is the easiest way to get yourself fried. Of course, there are ways around this, intentionally drawing the lightning away from you to other conduits or sources. This can be metal towers to bait the lightning or even a fantastic substance known to some planars as “rubber”. No matter your precaution, expect an electrifying time. Hmm, usually my word play is far better than that…
Survival can sometimes push necessary innovation. For the Gnomes of the Iron Coil Spelljammer crew, they faced such a necessity. While in hot pursuit by nefarious wildspace pirates, several of the crew conducted an elaborate ritual to jump into the planes beyond. However, a grievous miscalculation was made. Just as the energies of the phlogiston can tamper with rituals for lichdom (hence the firelich), they too can find their ways with planar magic. However, something gave way and a rift was opened into a realm filled with lightning. Reality warped and buckled, as the enemy pirates were sizzled. However, the gnomish jammer was near its last legs from an impossibility working… and backfiring. Fortunately, the rift closed as it shuffled back to a nearby rock station of their own; Glider’s Flop. From here, they crafted ways to access this plane once more as well as ways to fend against it. Away from the risks of the phlogiston, the gnomes tampered with elemental works once more. After several explosions, they concocted a ship design to not only deflect the dangers of electricity, but harness it well! A repurposed airship was turned into a lightning-channeling behemoth, equipped with impressive coils that grasp the electricity, while arcane engines funneling the primordial power throughout different machines. This discovery allowed their little burg to expand into an emerging enterprise. Don’t be shocked if you find lampposts with their own trapped lighting, all linked by cables, beginning to appear across Wildspace. The dark is that they’re planning on cutting into the Cage’s own artifice turf.
Terror lurks beyond the thought of electrocution. This terror has a name, literally “The Screaming Terror”. An energy force lives within this quasi-elemental plane, created much by accident. This entity of the elements is more so heard rather than really seen. This isn’t to say its invisible, its physical form blends quite well with the rest of the plane. Essentially, shocking ripples shoot from around a mouth-like formation that opens to emit the horrible noise. It’s more easily identified by thunderous crackling and nerve rending screaming. While the sonic waves of the cacophony rock a victim to its core, it carries the same raw essence of the Lightning plane. As such, any sod without the right means can not only by destroyed by an explosion of sound by vaporized by the zapping energies of the realm. The only reason to venture into this presence is to find a stable gateway into Pandemonium. And let’s be blunt with ourselves, why would we want to do that? If the terrible encounter didn’t dissuade you, then you’re more than barmy enough to make the leap already!
The Spirit of the Electric World is a name given to an Oni that has ascended in power thanks to the outside help of constant electricity. The Ogre Mage proclaims to be bloodline descendant of a terrifying duo of storm god brothers. While the creature lives alone, he lives in relative contentment, as Lightning is a force of life and celebration for him. However, he is none too happy by the movement of outsiders. His lair is an intentional conduit for the unlimited power, with metal-rods with large orbs at the end to catch rogue bolts that fly towards his direction. His lair is simple, a place to practice magic and keep the self healthy. Otherwise, it is minimalist, complete with a simple and boxy aesthetic, such as cross lattice style windows. He refers to his home as his dojo. However, if one issues a challenge beforehand, the ogre magi can’t seem to resist. In his lack of contact with most of the wide multiverse, he has grown cocky. Often, he’ll try to enlist and bend the plane around him to assist if he feels he’s outmatched. And even then, he’s a good judge of character when sizing up an opponent. Those who do beat him fairly are given a chance to learn a lightning themed boon, but so few have bested him that he’s confident in not sharing secrets.
Quasi-Elemental Plane of Minerals
The primer will triumphantly harrumph and balk at this one, thinking it’s a nicer version of the Plane of Earth, ripe for exploitation! Fool’s thoughts! For starters, suffocation is far more likely than on Earth. It seems like pockets of air are far less numerous. And more fascinating, the very rich minerals and gems within the plane are alive. Try and harvest without care and the landscape around you will take notice. Most of the time, retaliation is expected! And for those cocky about their acquisition? Don’t count on it without proper magic, as the life energies that are imbued within these incredible living stones fades… as does your recent discovery. That’s right, gems disintegrating before your eyes, all because your logic wasn’t attuned to this plane. But, a twist of the right protections and you have a treasure for the ages! But, do not dawdle. Those who stay too long risk petrification, becoming much like the very gem stones they seek to take. But, those at the ready can handle most of these issues. The lattice-like formations of the minerals themselves can post a challenge for navigation, but can either be bypassed or meticulously taken by a careful planes traveler. Overall, the many formations of nooks and crannies, lined with sharp and jagged points, makes mundane climbing and maneuvering impractical. I recommend some means of magical floating or flight, especially long running magic. And even then, the crystal-like jutting spikes are liable to cut and slice you.
Little life actually stays within the quasi-elemental plane. But, what does? The Gem Guardian, a species of protector spirits, made solid by the plane’s own magic. You could say that the mineral-filled earth is flesh and the gems organs, muscle, etc. Think of these guardians like your body defending against bad blood and worse foes! Merging into and popping from numerous points in the plane, they actively ensure the “health” and stability of this ever living dimension. One of their most frightening powers is the ability to overload an unwanted intruder with a raw form of positive energy. However, rather than exploding from life power, the victim simply becomes new living rock and gem matter for the plane to latch onto. If taken off plane, the guardian will harvest the changed remains of its victim, to take it back with them to the quasi-elemental home. These earthly shepherds seem to pick up on the presence of miners with ease, fighting them off with vehement hatred. But, how can you be alerted to one? Simple, they emit a roar that sounds like a mixture of a powerful beast and quaking earth. And the thing itself? A massive elemental of earthy texture, limb protrusions made of glistening gem and shining mineral; all of which makes a somewhat humanoid shaped defender of the realm. Despite its might and splendor, these creatures aren’t overly intelligent, so tricking them might be the best course of action. Granted, I would rather deal with these than the rumors of “gem dragons”.
A wise researcher once stated that life will always try to find a way. This couldn’t be truer in any positive-touched space. Deep within the crust, we have The Ore Eternium, lifeforms composed of seemingly inorganic material… This plane’s organic material! Rather than flora and fauna as we know it, breathtaking places and spaces composed, built from the same mass. Even the active creatures are built from the same. One would think that if all matter is built equally, then everyone is equal! If the Primes can’t accomplish this, what makes you think the Ore denizens are capable? In fact, there is a strict caste system imposed upon these rocky entities. Those who shine closest to the positive radiance are given the power, while those who show a lower glow? Low class citizens at best. Above all, it is a society built upon functioning tradition as well as the arts. Even for an outsider, these creations are true works of awe-commanding beauty. And while we marvel at these magnificent beings, I wish they could do the same for us. No, they see creatures made of squishy flesh and flimsy bone as malformed aliens; uncanny horrors that must be attacked! And don’t think for a second that they’re unarmed. To an extent, their bodies are weapons. Upon discovering the plane’s effects on outsiders, they rarely use these abilities to kill. Instead, to capture and suppress in hopes of using their victims for building material. Some are aiming to use the plane’s magics to convert “the worthy” into their hierarchy.
Should you find a way to either turn yourself into an Ore creature or disguise yourself, they don’t seem to notice. While one can’t change one type of Ore they are, it’s not too hard to alter your form in physical shape. They can even mold temporary weaponry from themselves, hence an earlier note. Thus, they’ve never had the need for deep transmutation magic and fooling them is easy that way. Their vast cityscape is a marvel to behold. Spires and towers twist and twirl, jutting edges bring The Cage to mind. Plus, several of the buildings and streets seem to defy and subvert the gravity otherwise found on the Plane of Earth. The lower reaches of this complex city are the lower classes, often made of far duller earthy beings. Towards the core of this orb-like maze is a magnificent glowing shape filled with crystals and diamonds. It rotates and seemingly dances within this central point. More than likely the elite of this society can be found within here. After all, everything builds from the rocky barriers of the city upwards towards this radiant middle. Overall, they seem content with this way of life, even the many workers on the bottom. Think of it all like a world. The top, an analogue for our mundane ground, is the lowest form of life. But, as one descends into the world’s core, you get closer to blessed realms. Hmm, I wonder if this society has a religious structure. Either way, things seem to run smoothly enough there. But, should they desire to push their way of life outward, it’s doubtful they’d be too willing to share their secrets with the multiverse. To them, they’d see a reality overrun by their boogeymen. In one of many scenarios, this would send them into a war-driven rage. In the meantime, best blend in and see if you can’t secure some incredible treasures of your own; legally or through more scrupulous means of course. Mind you, I do not advocate stealing from other planar cultures.
Quasi-Elemental Plane of Radiance
A power of light so bright, it’ll vaporize nearly anything. And no, the dark magical frames in your spectacles won’t fully save you either. If you’re lucky, you’ll just go blind. If you’re unlucky? Instead of nothingness, you’ll just become dust. Or worse, its incredible power can smite you to your core. At face value, there isn’t a whole lot to say about this realm. Like all elements, it’s possible to capture some essence and use it for something. For this one? Without some proper research, it’s really hard to say. But, powerful light can always be useful!
A phenomenon has occurred within the Radiance in more recent years, ever since an upheaval of Immortals powers within the world of Mystara. An ancient artifact called The Nucleus of the Spheres was a powerful arcane engine that had an incredible connection to a divine source called The Sphere of Energy, the source driven by the Energy Immortals. The power in the Nucleus, coincidentally, was called “The Radiance”. Its power is barely understood by the most devout of a small collective of Glantrian Wizards. Many have withered and crumbled in its blight, but they still tried to utilize it for ultimate power. Following an epic conspiracy, the artifact was altered. While it no longer took from the Sphere of Energy, that connection still lasted. In fact, a slight reality rift was formed… at least until the Immortals intervene. Simply put, an enterprising mage of Glantri who foolishly traveled to the reclaimed holy relic might instead find themselves in the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Radiance instead. While most wizards would simply expire from the burning flash, a secret society that has embraced “The Rad” seems to be locked in a nightmarish purgatory. In a sense, it’s the ultimate deserving fate for those who would dare continue to conspire against the powers. As to what’s stopping them from coming back to their world in the Prime? My guess? The Powers themselves! They’re always welcome in Sigil if they don’t mess too much up. Needless to say, they take great offense at anyone discovering them. While they’re angered by a fellow mage discovering their frustrating fate; they absolutely loathe priests. Any devotee of the Powers gains their wrathful focus.
Coined by a bard, the Connection of Rainbows is a lovely burg worthy of the Upper Planes. Maintained by a mixture of fallen Celestials, it isn’t wholly good. This isn’t to say that they fell from good, more so they fell from Chaos, Neutrality and Law. No matter the mix-up, they operate here. Pockets of Air and even a pinch of water have formed cloudy realms sheltered by barriers of rainbows that seemingly wrap around all parts of the vicinity. The searing heat of the plane doesn’t effect the water aspects, especially the clouds. The locals don’t question it and neither should you. Nothing about this place is exceptional though, it’s essentially a bohemian enclave of aesthetics driven artists. Best, some of the best healers in the multiverse have taken to this eccentric enclave. The owners of the Rainbow Recovery are truly odd characters though, a Life Slaad and a reformed Devil Swine. While both can easily unnerve visitors who have braved the blinding light, they pose no threat to anyway… well, except themselves. They have been known to get into heated arguments when not actively caring for anyone in need of their services. The eccentric and odd nature of the place is a turn off for many, especially those who prefer more traditional venues to explore. This is an eclectic mixture of outside arts and people.
They say there are distant dimensions from strange aeons, things that should not be. While other elemental planes suffer at the tendrils of eldritch forces, the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Radiance is shockingly one of them. An Entity known as “The Impossible Colours” dwells within this plane. What spawned such a thing? Not this plane, intentionally. Scholars who studied on this matter in secret cabals and research centers alike tell of a Far Realm, but there are many possibilities beyond this. How does this creature of “Impossible Colours” manifest? Usually through a great flash and an array of color that none can fully describe. And those who either gaze upon it or dwell within its tainted grounds for too long? They are the damned, forced to break apart and crumble in more ways than one. To some, it’s the truest essence of the Radiance. However, it has free reign to travel beyond its plane and spread its blight wherever it goes. Even more unsettling, it enjoys targeting regions of the Prime that can’t fight back. They only encounter an intangible and overwhelming oblivion.
Quasi-Elemental Plane of Steam
Watery mists are infused with positive energy to create this quasi-elemental plane. Dense and soupy, this plane isn’t actually that warm. It’s cool in its general murk, providing a somewhat comfortable cover. However, despite the endless void of bright blankets, it’s possible the humid moisture of the plane can be too much for a visitor. In a sense, they can easily drown within the plane itself!
Surely the Iron Coil was jumped right to lightning? Of course not! Their first planar ventures to ensure survival were actually with this quasi elemental plane. It was here that steam-driven wonders were born. And it was from here that they pondered true electrical engines to advance further. Since then, the company has had a schism over technical progress. Many feel that steam can still bring about a revolution in the planes and beyond. Others feel that lightning is the way forward. Sadly, much of these innovations never push into the public eye, as too much time and funds are spent on outdoing the other group out of spite. This isn’t to say that either is against showing off for visitors, but potential investors are too worried over the conflict. As for the Steam method of engineering? It seems far less prone to breakage, though it seems to convey a far bulkier look to it to accommodate all the chambers and vessels needed to properly operate. The solution to bridge things between the groups is a hybridization. Many are quite skeptical on how this would go over. Until then, the Steam Gnomes and Lightning Gnomes remain divided on this.
The Folly of Chilled Air is what the hovering derelict is called. This burg formed from repurposed steam amidst clumped elemental pockets and did at some point show promise. The central idea was a factory and bottling town, centered on capturing the freshest and most invigorating steam that the plane could offer, selling it at intense prices to the other planes at large. The operation was doing quite well, until the denizens and workers alike found out that those who risked “mist filled lungs” (too much moisture causing a variety of sickness) were largely ignored and left to die, even as cases grew exponentially. This lead to a revolt and upending of the establishment. After the main operations of the enterprise were “removed”, the remaining populace simply thought it better to abandon the project and find something new. Now it lays, supposedly dormant, as a reminder about the fates of corrupt enterprise. The place is filled with misty phantoms, enraged at any prospectors and scavengers looking for a piece of memorabilia or equipment of their own.
The Off-Warm Clouds are a poorly named look at what happens when Steam and the “hypothetical” realm of vapor mix. In a sense, it feels like the Plane of Steam, but it’s warmer. However, somehow the energies of this plane cause the clouds to become more solid. No one who has explored them can make much sense of it. Perhaps bits of Earth got mixed in too? No matter, plenty who are too afraid to venture into the pureness of Air have settled on the warm cloud beds, whether for a quick nap or to just relax. However, some precaution should still be taken. While not as “watery” as the rest of the plane, it’s possible to inhale too much moisture than your body knows what to do with. Some have made their own cut of the jink here, marketing places of relaxation and getaway. In face, much of the steamy mists seem to give way in particularly comfortable parts. The Steam Mephit, Hiissurk, proclaims to be the big name around here. As to why they’re attempting to section off much of this planar melding point is anyone’s guess. Probably because it’s among the safest points of the plane. Rumor has it that the steamy cabal has their sights on the ruins of Chilled Air, in hopes of becoming an unstoppable leisure and vanity business. As it is The Off-Warm Clouds Guild has made their presence well respected in the Lady’s Ward of The Cage, proclaiming that their services and goods are the perfect hidden luxuries for high society. And as luck would have it, that is most of their clientele.
Not everything here is about capital and consumption. The Art of Staying Hidden is an academy that has made itself a secret, including from prying businessmen. Operated by a former ninja assassin from Toril, Yoshitaka welcomes you to figure out how to Stay Hidden. This trick filled mansion of a building offers courses in almost all aspects of stealth and sneaking, an essential for the planar-thief and rogue among the party! However, the master does not approve his skills being used for petty crime or the like. To him, these are skills of survival, quick attacks and intellect. Among company he enjoys to keep, he’ll meet them in a secret office on an upper floor of the house. There, he will also spend time with his pet, a cat made of clouds. Should you also get on his good side, he’ll be willing to share a tale about his somewhat sordid and morbid past; the nobles he confronted, the targets he was sent to kill and many other things. Now, these are memories and reflections. His concern revolves around much of his current beliefs in mostly keeping to one’s own and avoiding conflict. And thus, The Art of Staying Hidden.
And with that, a brief look into the Positive Energy touched Inner Planes. Let me conclude things with the Negative Energy touched ones next time.
IMAGE SOURCE: P Sullivan – Positive Plane