Ethereal Plane

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Greyhawk Plane
Ethereal Plane
Type Transitive plane
Layers Three (Deep, Border, Curtain of Vaporous Color)
Alignment No alignment trait
Native Inhabitants nathri, xill, terithrans, tweens, and gingwatzim.
Greyhawk Powers Tsolorandril

The Ethereal Plane, or the waveless sea as it is also known, is an infinite expanse of colored mists. These mists are the stuff of raw potential, and a slight movement is enough to transform them into a semi-solid substance known as ephemeral protomatter (see below).

The mists of possibility translate into a nourishing gas appropriate to those who breathe it; thus, both air-breathers and water-breathers can equally survive on the Ethereal Plane.

Taste, touch, and smell are somewhat muted on the Ethereal Plane, though hearing is sharpened in the thick, possibility-laden medium of the plane.

Structure

The Ethereal Plane has two parts: the Deep Ethereal, which is like a deep sea, and the Border Ethereal, which is like the shore. Those walking in the Border actually exist in the Ethereal Plane and the plane it borders at the same time. Between the two parts is the curtain of vaporous color.

The Waveless Sea touches all of the Inner Planes and the Prime Material Plane. Many demiplanes exist within it. The region of dreams also winds through the ethereal mists in the form of shimmering curtains of color.

Protomatter

Protomatter is a semi-solid or solid substance, generally white with bluish tinges. The most ephemeral form, known as ephemeral protomatter, forms with any sufficiently strong movement, and dissolves just as quickly. Very rarely, ephemeral protomatter may become a more stable type of protomatter known as quintessential protomatter or quintessential ether. The web of a phase spider is made of quintessential ether, and this forms one of the components of a portable hole. Very rarely, or in the case of very rare phase spiders, quintessential protomatter may become stable protomatter, which lasts indefinitely and slowly accumulates. It is believed that if enough stable ether accumulates in one place, a new demiplane will be created.

Larger fluctuations, such as those caused by the flexing of curtains of vaporous color, by ether cyclones, by the vortices that connect the elemental planes with the Prime Material, are much more likely to create more stable forms of protomatter.

Naturally occurring streams and falls also exist in the Deep Ethereal, constantly forming rivers of ephemeral protomatter steaming into the mists.

Layers

Border Ethereal

Each plane that borders the Ethereal Plane (except for a few demiplanes) has a Border Ethereal region. From the vantage of the Border Ethereal, one can perceive the Border Ethereal and the plane it touches simultaneously. The adjoining plane is reduced to shades of gray, and seems to be shrouded in fog. Sound on the adjoining plane is muffled and hard to make out clearly. Those on the Border Ethereal are invisible and inaudible to those on the adjoining plane except through magic, and cannot communicate across the planar divide without magic.

A few Prime Material creatures, such as cockatrices and phase wasps and the creature created by a Mordenkainen's Faithful Hound spell, are able to attack creatures on the Border Ethereal Plane.

Creatures on the Border Ethereal are aware of the adjoining plane's gravity but not bound by it; they can move into the sky or into the earth by an act of will. Certain substances will block ethereal travel, for example lead, gold, diamond, expensive crystal, stone mortared with the blood of a gorgon, and all living creatures (including, for example, walls covered with crawling ivy). Ethereal travelers must move around these obstacles. Null-magic areas and dispel magic effects cause ethereal travelers to fall back into the adjoining plane.

By another act of will, border ethereal travelers may move into the Deep Ethereal, passing through the Wall of Color on the way.

Deep Ethereal

This part of the Ethereal Plane exists independently, an infinite sea of mist without gravity or parallel planes to provide a traveler with a sense of direction. Shimmering curtains of differing colors help identify passages to the Border Ethereal; the exact color of the curtain can help identify which plane the region borders.

Movement is accomplished by acts of will, the mind translating the possibility of the plane into movement. Faster movement is possible by sacrificing physical substance, with increasing damage of a traveler's corporeal form providing increasingly fast movement.

  • Ether cyclones are spiraling storms (resulting from the friction between the various planes of existence) that suck up all in their path, throwing them off course or into another plane.
  • Ether gaps are catastrophic collapses in possibility, the legacy of destroyed timelines and the like, that pull all who come too close outside the multiverse entirely, to be forever lost. They first manifest as a strange tugging in the mist, the current growing stronger the closer a traveler approaches until they become unstoppable, spiraling holes of death in the substance of reality. One ether gap, known as Leicester's Gap, leads to the Far Realm. Others are known to lead to aborted timelines that never came to pass.
  • Vortex fronts. Vortices like endless cyclones connect the Elemental Planes and the Prime Material Plane, channeling elemental material from one plane to another. For example, a vortex to the Elemental Plane of Water may connect to a point deep beneath the Solnor Ocean, or a vortex to the Quasielemental Plane of Ash may touch the Sea of Dust on Oerth. Vortices may also connect one Elemental Plane to another, providing a shortcut between, for example, the Elemental Plane of Earth and the Elemental Plane of Fire (one such vortex, known as the Iron Crucible, exists near the City of Brass). From the Ethereal Plane, these vortices resemble endless shadowy tubes. They may, at irregular intervals, burst with elemental material and pulse with dangerous wave fronts made of temporarily compressed ether. These "vortex fronts" can be used as propulsion by those who know how to "ride" them in the same way a surfer rides a wave.

Curtain of Vaporous Color

As mentioned above, these shimmering curtains help identify which plane the Border Ethereal region beyond will touch. For example, red curtains generally lead to the Elemental Plane of Fire.

The Curtain of Vaporous Color is also the Region of Dreams, the realm in which the dreams of creatures on the adjoining planes take place. Reality is somewhat thinner and more tenuous in the Region of Dreams, capable of fitting into the thin curtains without the dreamers noticing. Occasionally, however, dreamscapes will escape the Region of Dreams and enter the Deep Ethereal, taking on substance and increased reality from the mists. Some manage to sustain themselves in this way indefinitely, becoming semi-permanent demiplanes spun from ethereal mist and dream.

Ecology

Fauna

  • Tweens are amorphous energy beings that affect the luck of those they attach themselves to.
  • Rabbiun are serpentine beings who fly like spears through the Deep Ethereal.

Flora

  • Chronolilies are flowers that subsist on the temporal currents originating - some say - in the Demiplane of Time. Nearly 50 feet in diameter, the pools of nectar in their blossoms can reveal images of the past, present, or future.

Inhabitants

Inhabitants of the Ethereal include nathri, xill, terithrans, and gingwatzim.

  • The nathri are 4-foot-tall humanoids with dark greenish skin and long, unruly black hair. They are fierce, wild barbarians who conduct lightning-fast raids on demiplanes before retreating back to their homes in the Deep Ethereal. They are on the lower end of the food chain for beings like magran and xill.
  • Red-skinned, four-armed aliens, the xill are an aggressive race from the Ethereal Plane, feared and despised by most natives of planes bordering the Ethereal. Their origins are unknown, but they speak the language of the baatezu. The modern xill race is divided into two distinct castes: the High Clans – the so-called Settlers, and the Low Clans – the Hunters. The Low Clans are savages who disdain the use of tools, but the High Clans are civilized sophisticates with an equal disdain for their cousins' primitive ways. Both races of xill worship a god called Sixin.
  • The gingwatzim are beings of raw life force created by the last Emir of Castan. There are six different species of varying powers, but all resemble glowing spheres of swirling, sparkling gases. They can also be bound inside living creatures or inanimate objects. On their home plane, the more powerful types prey on the less powerful ones.

Other Ethereal encounters include:

  • Angel, Monadic Deva (FF)
  • Aoa, Droplet (FF)
  • Aoa, Sphere (FF)
  • Basilisk (MM)
  • Cerebral Parasite (Psi)
  • Dharculus (Planar Handbook)
  • Demon, Tanar'ri, Succubus (MM)
  • Devourer (MM)
  • Ectoplasmic Vermin (Ghostwalk)
  • Elf, Ghost (Dragon #313)
  • Ether Scarab (MMII)
  • Ethereal Doppleganger (MMII)
  • Ethereal Filcher (MM)
  • Ethereal Marauder (MM)
  • Ethereal Ooze (FF)
  • Ethereal Scarab (MMII)
  • Ethereal Slayer (MMII)
  • Ethergaunt, Black (FF)
  • Ethergaunt, Red (FF)
  • Ethergaunt, White (FF)
  • Ghost (MM)
  • Ghost Brute (Libris Mortis)
  • Ghosteater (Ghostwalk)
  • Gingwatzim (Dragon #295)
  • Joystealer (MMIV)
  • Lammasu (MM)
  • Medusa (MM)
  • Nethersight Mastiff (MMII)
  • Nilshai (Unapproachable East)
  • Night Hag (MM)
  • Omnimental (MMIII)
  • Phase Spider (MM)
  • Phase Wasp (MMII)
  • Planar Dragon, Ethereal (Draconomnicon)
  • Planetouched, Shyft (FF)
  • Sacred Watcher (BoED)
  • Shedu (FF)
  • Spirit of the Air (FF)
  • Thought Eater (Psi)
  • Thought Slayer (Psi)
  • Xill (MM)

Features and settlements

Known demiplanes

This category doesn't include Fading Lands, which are coterminous with the Prime Material Plane rather than the Ethereal, or the half-worlds accessible from Tovag Baragu and the World Ash Yggdrasil.

  • The Abados
  • The Black Abyss
  • The Boundless
  • The Breaching Obelisk, a tiny demiplane containing an obelisk that occasionally manifests on other planes, creating a zone of wild magic. Planar Handbook, page 174.
  • The Clockwork Gap
  • Coil
  • Demiplane of Dread.
  • Demiplane of Imprisonment
  • Demiplane of Electromagnetism
  • Demiplane of Filth
  • Demiplane of Haven
  • Demiplane of Invention
  • The Demiplane of Knowledge Concerning the Layers of the Abyss and Carceri
  • Demiplane of Nightmares
  • Demiplane of Time
  • Devastus
  • Draedenden
  • Elayne Mystica's demiplanar home
  • Gloaming
  • Inphirblau
  • The Isle of the Ape
  • The Isle of Black Trees
  • Kelanen's unnamed demiplanar stronghold
  • Land Beyond the Magic Mirror
  • Land of the Immortals
  • Last Resort
  • Lost Citadel of Magic
  • Maelost
  • The Mazes
  • The Mewling is a vast hatchery where humans are bred to act as hosts for xill eggs.
  • Moil, the City That Waits
  • Neth, the Demiplane That Lives
  • Oxyrhynchus, a desert demiplane including a mysterious ruined pyramid. Planar Handbook, page 172.
  • The Ring of Five's five demiplanes
  • Semblance
  • The Shattered World
  • Spirrax demiplane
  • The Timevoid
  • Urunaland
  • Wormscape
  • Zagyg's Maze

See also

Bibliography

  • Cook, Monte. A Hero's Tale. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1996.
  • -----. The Planewalker's Handbook. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1996.
  • -----. Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix Three. Renton, WA: TSR, 1998.
  • Cordell, Bruce R. and Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel. Planar Handbook. Renton, WA: TSR, 2004.
  • Grubb, Jeff. Manual of the Planes. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1987.
  • Noonan, David. Monster Manual V. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2007.
  • Stewart, Todd, and Oliver Diaz. "Multiple Dementia." Dragon #353. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, March 2007.