The Planes

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Sarradar is the fourth planet in its solar system and the astronomers of Sarradar, the Sithain of the Northern Kingdoms being the foremost among them, have managed to ascertain that around Sarradar’s sun there orbit a total of nine other planets and two rings of asteroids. This in conjunction with the information gathered from the extraplanar explorations of various adventurers over the course of the past several thousand years, current scholars believe that the myriad of planes are each tied to a corresponding real-world locale.

Planar Connections

Sarradar’s planar network exists as a series of aetheric realms floating within the Empyrean, like islands in a great ocean. Native entities or foreign travellers can voyage from place to place directly through the Empyrean, or by shortcutting through waygates. These waygates also function as connections from Sarradar to points throughout the Empyrean and its planes, and short of the use of powerful or very particular magics, are the normal means by which a person will access these aetheric realms.

Manifest Zones

The bindings between the planes have their points of weakness and their points of strength. The points where the link is especially strong are at places of power known as manifest zones, and these are where travellers can journey from the plane that they are on to Sarradar or into the Empyrean. Approaching the crossover point of a manifest zone one is confronted by the sensation of static coursing across one's entire body, and one can often see motes of light appearing and disappearing around the point where the link exists. The cross-over itself creates a feeling that can be best described as the body lurching in all directions at once, and is disconcerting for even the most experienced planeswalker.

Places such as the Maw of Kyrethim in the Great Wastes or the Whisperwood of the Dra’zhar Lands make it possible to travel from Sarradar to the depths of the Abyss of Manawe or to the farthest reaches of the Myriad Realms. The precise reasons for the existence of these interplanar links are hotly debated by scholars, but the general consensus is that it has something to do with rips and folds in the fabric of the Empyrean, or places where the energy of the Aetheric Winds has pooled for a long time.

Plane Descriptions

In the case of all the planes described below, the name of the plane is the same as that of the planet to which they are seemingly tied, with the exception of Sarradar’s coterminous plane, and the planes tied to the two asteroid belts.

The Empyrean

Beyond the physical world lies the Aether, otherwise known as the Astral Realm, Indigo Sky or most commonly, the Empyrean, and it is a vast expanse of space bounded by the Veil in all directions. It is an ephemeral mirror to the real world in which aethereal beings both insignificant and powerful dwell. It is from this realm that the aetheric winds originate, and from where the raw aetheric energy known as mana is first drawn.

Within its vastness float all the other planes in a similar manner to their physical counterparts that orbit the sun. From the Empyrean though they appear only as dark spheres upon the continued expanse of the plane, lit up in places by the manifest regions on their surface. In between them drift innumerable cloudbanks and the occasional asteroid, the background light going from a reddish-purple closer to Sarhelion, to a bluish-purple towards the Veil. The dimensions of the plane do not correspond directly though to the solar system that it mirrors, the space between planes sometimes being less than a thousandth of the actual distance.

The minds of sleepers link to this place in the depth of their dreaming, and both realms affect each other. Those with the power to do so (mages usually) can consciously project their minds in much the same way as a dreamer, but in doing so they are less prone to the fugue that strips an unconscious dreamer of what they might have experienced. It is, however, a place of both the immaterial and the material, and with the right power, a person may physically translocate to the Aether and from there transit to other places within its expanse in a fraction of the time mundane travel would take. The powers of teleportation are, relatively speaking, some of the simplest means of employing this ability to do travel.

The plane is in fact habitable, as the various elemental planes provide raw materials for life. Some travellers and other stranger humanoid races that call this vast plane home live upon rocky asteroids calved off from Rhysharn; breathe air vented from Ouraho, drink water from the clouds that drift off Telnasha, and are warmed by the light of Sarhelion. Many native aetheric entities call this plane home as well, but most tend to derive nourishment from other forms, such as the raw magical energy of the Aetheric Winds that is present throughout the plane itself. Travelling from a plane to the Empyrean through a spell or a manifest zone brings the traveller to the corresponding point in the plane, just above the beacon of diffuse light that marks the zone, and visa versa for those travelling from the Empyrean to the other plane.

The Shadow

In between the Empyrean and the other planes there exists a twilight realm where everything is but a pale simulacrum blending the substance of the material world and the linked plane. It is here that the souls of the dead pause before their journey on to an afterlife, or linger if unable to pass on, and it is where other haunting things are said to dwell as well. It is a realm of transition, and though tempting for those who wish to to silently and invisibly observe the goings on of the real world, prolonged exposure can subtly change the traveller or bring them to the attention of its more predatory inhabitants. Any planeswalker automatically passes through the Shadow when transitioning from the material world to a plane of the Aether, though it takes particular magic to remain within the Shadow and not complete the transition.

The Veil

While not a plane, it is the Veil which contains all of the planes within its boundaries. Appearing as a great wall of thick cloud and crackling lightning at the distant edges of the Empyrean just beyond Sabri, the Veil prevents anyone from passing through it. All reports of those that have tried have ended with them turning back as they felt their bodies begin to be torn apart by the barrier, or destruction in the case of those that persisted.

Sarhelion, the Elemental Plane of Fire

Probably one of the largest planes within the Veil, Sarhelion is tied to the Sun that warms and lights the surfaces of the Inner planets. The plane is a vast expanse of rocky and sandy deserts, interspersed by lakes of saline water and volcanic mountain ranges. Beneath the surface of the planet molten magma constantly flows and erupts to the surface, creating new volcanoes and lava outcroppings. Plant and animal life can survive on Sarhelion, but those that survive are adapted to the fire and heat, some even relying on it for their propagation. Several races live throughout the plane, most notably the demonic ifrit that lord over it’s stark cities and fire-scorched lands. Manifest zones that link to Sarhelion appear in fiery conflagrations such as the burning of a town, forest or large building, or within great pools of lava.

Karkoras, the Infernal Hells

Tied to the innermost planet of the Sarradar system, the Infernal Hells has been transformed from whatever its original form is to a vast city without end in which millions upon millions of demonic aetherals and souls dwell. Militarised in order to be ever ready for war with the celestials of Thrannacor, the city is a terrifying and almost assuredly fatal destination for any mortal traveller. Karkoras is notably bereft of the presence of any gods aside from Rakyron, who is believed to dwells within his own personal demi-plane tied to the plan. Manifest zones that link to Karkoras can be found in pools of blood large enough to fully immerse oneself in, or on some battlefields right after a great slaughter.

Lokharun, the Gray Wastes

To look upon the Gray Wastes is view desolation. It is a bleak desert of a wasteland where swollen grey clouds hang constantly in the sky, disgorging their loads occasionally in torrential downpours that drench the land and carve out gullies amidst the twisted rocky ground. Lokharun is said to be the destination for the souls of all those who have not pledged their soul to a deity or ideal. Reports from planeswalkers who have returned from here indicated that this may indeed be the case, for rising in places from the landscape there stand pinnacles of stone that they claim burn with a pale white witch-light and from whence can be heard the sounds of dismal moaning like a chorus of the damned. The forces of the Ebon Legion and the Celestials are attested as using this plane as a staging point for assaults against each others realms, and outposts from either side can be found in places, perched amidst the rocky wasteland. Manifest zones that can convey one to Lokharun are typically encountered on old battlefields and in desolate graveyards.

Irian, the Verdant Wildlands

The only other plane tied to what is believed to be a habitable world, Irian is a plane of rugged natural beauty. It is covered in forests, ranging from mangroves hung heavy with moss to snowfall-laden pines to acres of sequoias so thick that no light penetrates their canopy. The air of Irian is ideal for anything that grows. It is humid and warm in the swampy regions, calm and cool beneath the sequoias, breezy and clear among the beeches, and arid and hot in the more open lands. Creatures of all kinds can be found within the varied regions of Irian, though even the most mundane of them can be dire in their size and attitude, and the great dragons that stalk its expanses are ferocious and territorial. The most important aspect of Irian is how the plane favours animals of all kinds. Traditional towns, cities, and strongholds are few and far between. Those who make their homes within this plane learn to seek to live with the trees, not work against them. Manifest zones to Irian include pools of the clearest and cleanest water, and old forest groves untouched by the woodsman’s axe.

Eskarun, the Underworld

Bound to the planet of Sarradar, the Underworld is not as dismal as one might expect from such a name. To reach the plane, travellers can make their way down into the depths of the Labyrinth where numerous interplanar rifts are reputed to lie. Passing through one of these gates one appears again in a series of tunnels and caverns akin to the Labyrinth, but upon reaching the surface a traveller will find that they have indeed arrived on a plane rather than Sarradar. While the landscape seems much like the real world, everything is more focused and defined. A great oak on Sarradar will likely have a counterpart in the Underworld that is five times as high and could nestle an entire village in its boughs. In the same respects, a church to an evil deity in the real world can be represented by a towering cathedral of black spires and blood-drenched walls.

The plane is constantly changing to reflect what is going on in Sarradar, yet contains shadows of the past. If one sails upon the Underworld’s equivalent to the Broken Sea, the ghostly shells of the cities of the Ancients that sunk beneath the waves during the Sundering jut out from the surface. The sign that something is about to change is the appearance of a thick grey mist that seems to just rise up from the ground. Over the course of several days, the affected area will subtly change until it is a more accurate reflection of what is there on Sarradar.

The Underworld has few races living in any great number across its expanse, as the land is always subject to change based upon what happens on Sarradar. Those that do make their life on the Underworld tend to be nomadic, although several cities do exist, protected by powerful spells that shield them against the changing effects of the Mists. Tied as it is to Sarradar, manifest zones to the Underworld can only really be found in deep caves and tunnels typically associated with the Labyrinth.

Thrannacor, the Celestial Heavens

A paradise amidst the rough, Thrannacor is heaven for almost all creatures with such a concept. The surface of the plane is an artist’s landscape of verdant meadows and grand forests, snow-capped mountains and shining lakes, amidst which dwell in peace the souls of countless departed. Celestials can be seen throughout the length and breadth of this plane, and it is here too that most of the gods of the Silver Court are said to have made their personal realms. Manifest zones to this realm can be found in places of divine worship and atop high-points in the landscape at the break of dawn.

Ouraho, the Elemental Plane of Air

Aside from the Empyrean and perhaps the Shadow, Ouraho seems to be the largest plane to be found within the Veil. A seemingly endless expanse on blue sky and cloud banks, the planar boundary of Ouraho blends almost seamlessly with the Empyrean, the noticeable change between the two being the shift from a blue sky, to a black vastness filled with bluish-purple clouds. Some arcane theoreticians believe that it is due to the release of atmosphere from Ouraho that it is possible to breath within the Astral Plane.

Within the plane itself one is able to move freely according to one's desires amidst open stretches of sky, cloudbanks, and even onto the numerous sections of rock that have been captured by Ouraho from the Empyrean. It is on these solid pieces of rock that the few settlements of native entities and travellers can be found. To reach Ouraho, a traveller must find manifest zones that appear at the point of major lightning strikes or in the midst of natural storms or tornados.

The Myriad Domains

Each physical location within the Veil is potentially matched with a plane within the Empyrean. The uncountable number of asteroids that circle Sarhelion between the gas giants of Ouraho and Telnasha provide perfect loci for a multitude of demi-planes. While a great percentage of these loci are still bereft of their own planes, there are more than enough already in existence that an adventurer could spend a lifetime travelling through them all. Some of these are occupied by nothing more than a few animals, while others are lorded over by fearsome demonic princes or heavenly celestials.

Telnasha, the Elemental Plane of Water

The Elemental Plane of Water is an immense sphere of water in all its forms, upon whose surface there drift sizeable continents, unbound from any solid tether but prevented in moving by some unknown force. The light of Sarhelion warms the upper waters, but most of the land north and south of the equator is subject to a perpetual winter. Beyond the clouds that exist beneath the edge of the planar boundary of Telnasha, water vapour is gradually released into the Astral Plane, where it forms icy clouds that drift throughout the expanse of the Veil.

Below the floating continents the waters go all the way down to a vast sphere that marks the planet’s centre. It is here that the deity Hydros is said to dwell within a palace sculpted out of that ice and decorated by all manner of fantastic creations both of water and of standard materials. Elsewhere throughout the plane, various other races hold dominion, from tentacled leviathans to inscrutable merfolk, but all still are aware of the power that Hydros commands in this plane as the deity of water. Manifest zones to this realm appear in natural whirlpools or waterspouts.

Manawe, the Abyss

A plane of darkness and sheer clefts, the Abyss is home to many demons not bound to the the ranks of the Ebon Legion and a multitude of other horrors. It takes its name from the vast chasm that stretches across three-quarters of the plane’s circumference, and descends to its very core. While there are an abundance of other colossal rifts, none as large or as dark as this one, for where it touches the planes heart there is said to lie the source of evil and oblivion itself. Manifest zones that link to Manawe can be found in crevasses never touched by the light of the sun or in locations where mass murder or some other horrifically evil act has occurred.

Rhysharn, the Elemental Plane of Earth

The plane of Rhysharn is an immense mass of rock and earth within which only small caverns exist that non-elementals or burrowing creatures can dwell in. The planar boundary of Rhysharn is a chaotic expanse of rocky protrusions that steadily grow up into the atmosphere and forth into the Empyrean before breaking off and drifting away. Thus Rhysharn is the source of the majority of solid matter throughout the Empyrean. Creatures inhabit not only the surface, but also the vast network of labyrinthine caverns that extend right throughout the plane. Elementals spirits and those with magical or supernatural ability to travel through or manipulate rock are at a distinct advantage in this plane. Manifest zones that allow one to reach Rhysharn seem to occur solely within geodes large enough to at least crawl into.

The Outlands

On the fringes of the Sarhelion system there exists another asteroid belt, and like the Myriad Domains, this location too is home to an uncountable number of demi-planes. Here though the inhabited planes are somewhat more sparsely populated, and those that are, are more often the abodes of creatures that one dare not think about, horrors and fiends whose forms and behaviour defy common sense.

Sabri, the Gateway

While at least something is known about all the other major planes by those versed in such studies, information on the nature of Sabri is decidedly lacking. No planar connections are known to exist between Sabri and any other planes, and no-one is known to have ever survived or returned from a journey through the Empyrean to this far-flung plane. What secrets and dangers it holds can only be guessed at, the only mentions to it being found amidst religious scripts of the Ancients as it being a place of ascension.

The Fae Realms

Nestled between the fabric of the real world and the planes lie small pockets of extra-dimensional space. In numerous cases these have been created by spellcasters for the purposes of storage, respite or travel. In addition to these though, there are natural pockets of extra-dimensional space which have been spontaneously created in locations of high amounts of natural magical energy, and in many cases these ‘pockets’ can be quite large and are linked by passageways that seem to follow natural ley-lines.

It is in these regions that many fae creatures originate. Born and linked with both the material world as well as the magical, they find these places a haven to them from the other races. In these realms they have built splendid cities and grown great forests, and have fought wars as well as developed culture. Non-fae are uncommon in the fae realms, as the nature of the domains can be a little bit disconcerting to say the least for unfamiliar newcomers. To reach the Fae Realms, the use of a waygate or specific magics are required, often incorporating specific knowledge of the wards and bypass commands for a particular transition point.

Other Subjects of Note

Shadow of the Moon

Despite its proximity to Sarradar, the moon of Sarrithil possesses one of the most difficult to reach planes within the Empyrean. No known manifest zones link to it and those attempting to reach it via other means find themselves disoriented and buffeted as though caught in a storm, only calming once more after they have retreated from their attempt. Many theories about as to what lies on this plane, told about in everything from alehouse tales to the academic papers of the most prestigious universities.

A common story is that the place was the site of a battle so terrible during the War in Heaven that the very fabric of reality was broken asunder and therefore became impassable to mortals and gods alike. Alternatively it could be the prison in which the Gods of the Dark that could not be defeated were bound, and that the guardians of that place watch over it still to prevent unwitting or foolish interlopers from accidentially entering and breaking the seals that bind those terrible beings.

In academic circles, studious research and consultation with a wide range of aetheric entities has unfortunately done little to result in a definitive conclusion to the matter. Published theories propose that the plane resonates with a form of aetheric energy so different that normal entities cannot enter into its space, that it is a secret base for one of the factions of the Aether War, or even that it contains a realm of the Ancients, hidden away from humanity since the fall of their empire on Sarradar and waiting until the time is right to return and take back what they once held.

The ones who seem to know the most about the moon are the dragons, and to those that they care to speak with on the matter they tell of their worship of the Moon Goddess, and of the moon’s sacred role in their beliefs. To those that are able to inquire further of them, they tell of how when a dragon dies it is to the shadow of the moon that they travel, where they are reborn in time and given a new form after rest, and that it is their place and not for any nondragon to travel to.

Planeswalking

The fool might find themselves taking to travel of the planes and if they are lucky, surviving to return and tell of their experiences. The prepared adventurer will however prepare themselves well for such an excursion, as the rules of reality that exist on Sarradar do not necessarily apply out in the Empyrean and few familiar comforts and conveniences can be found in its vast expanse.

One does not necessarily have to be a mage to travel to other planes as quick wits or prodigious fortitude can get a hapless adventurer out of numerous tricky situations. Knowledge of the arcane arts does make things easier, as there exist a range of different spells that have been devised for just such endeavours.

A key thing for every planeswalker to remember is to bring some form of appropriate navigational aid. Though there are a few individuals that seem to bear an innate sense of place in these morphic realms, most have to rely on aetheric compasses that point not only to the axis of the Empyrean but which way in the present plane is ‘up’, relatively speaking.

Additionally, it helps to stock a range of other arcane tools in one’s planeswalking kit, including an aetherometer for detecting dangerous build-ups of magical energy, a mage-bubble for protection while sleeping, and rope, because you always need rope.

The Final Gate

Somewhere at the point where creation ends in the deepest reaches of the aether and the void begins, there stands the Final Gate, the last point in the journey of all things that have passed from life into death or onto their second-life and are now ready to join with the divine order.

It existence is known about only through the teachings of the gods and despite the differences between them, seems to be a common link between all the pantheons. Whether it be via the Halls of Valhas, the Paradise of the Cala’sidhe or the Heavens of the Silver Court, at the end there is always the Gate.

Nothing that has passed through it has ever returned or ever will, except for when creation itself draws near to its end and the Herald of Oblivion comes through from beyond to blow its fateful horn.