Outer Planes

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An outer plane is one of a number of general types of planes of existence. They can also be referred to as godly planes, spiritual planes or divine planes. The Outer Planes are home to beings such as deities and otherworldly creatures such as demons, celestials and devils, and they are the standard afterlife of mortal souls. Each Outer Plane is usually the physical manifestation of a particular moral and ethical alignment and the entities that dwell there often embody the traits related to that alignment.

The intangible and esoteric Outer Planes—the realms of ideals, philosophies, and gods—stand in contrast to the Inner Planes, which compose the material building blocks of reality and the realms of energy and matter.

All Outer Planes are spatially infinite but are composed of features and locations of finite scope. Many of these planes are often split in to a collection of further infinites called layers, which are essentially sub-planes that represent one particular facet or theme of the plane. For example, Baator's geography is reminiscent of Hell as depicted in Dante's The Divine Comedy. In addition, each layer may also contain a number of realms. Each realm is the home to an individual deity, or occasionally a collection of deities.

Structure

The first layers of each of the Outer Planes touch the Astral Plane. The Outer Planes are connected to the Prime Material Plane via Astral conduits, which are described as great silvery tubes or whirlwinds used by souls to travel to and from the afterlife. On the Material Plane, they are invisible to mortal sight. They are often watched over by mysterious spiritual guardians who resemble the psychopomps of mortal legend.

The various realms and layers of the Outer Planes are connected to one another via planar conduits, similar to the Astral conduits except they knit the Outer Planes to one another instead of to the mortal plane. They are also connected by a network of portals of varying appearance known as the Great Road. Many of these portals are surrounded by gate-towns or fortresses; these settlements are subject to sliding into the neighboring plane if their philosophical outlook changes too greatly, and planar entities and factions often compete to make this happen or to prevent it. Finally, there are the planar paths, such as the Infinite Staircase, Mount Olympus, Yggdrasil, the River Oceanus, and the River Styx, which cross from one plane to another without a need for portals or conduits.

Known Outer Planes

The cosmology used in the Greyhawk setting contains seventeen outer planes. Cosmologically, they are arranged in a ring of sixteen planes with the good-aligned planes, or Upper Planes, at the top, and the evil-aligned planes, or Lower Planes, at the bottom. The lawful planes (or Planes of Law) sit to the left, and the chaotic planes (or Planes of Chaos) to the right. Between the planes of Law and Chaos sit the Neutral planes, or the Planes of Conflict. One further plane sits in the center of the ring, the Outlands, being neutral in alignment. At the center of the Outlands is a Spire of infinite height; the city of Sigil floats above the Spire's pinnacle. The standard D&D cosmology is the official cosmology used in the Planescape and Greyhawk campaign settings. Many of the alternative names derive from the 1st-edition Manual of the Planes (1987, ISBN 0-88038-399-2), and were portrayed in the Planescape setting as the incorrect names used by the "Clueless", or characters from the Prime Material Plane unfamiliar with the planes.

Name Alternative Name(s) Alignment Description Notable native inhabitants
Elysium Blessed Fields Neutral good The plane of peace and unadulterated goodness.
  • Guardinals - noble immortal humanoids with bestial features
  • Pelor - God of the Sun
The Beastlands Happy Hunting Grounds Neutral good/chaotic good The plane of idealized nature.
Arborea Arvandor, Olympus, Olympian Glades Chaotic good Fey realm of passion, abundance and nature's caprice.
Ysgard Asgard, Gladsheim, Heroic Domains Chaotic neutral/chaotic good The eternal battleground where true heroes prove their valor.
  • Gods of Norse mythology
  • Kord - God of Strength
  • Olidammara - God of Rogues
Limbo Plane of Ever-Changing Chaos Chaotic neutral An alien, anarchistic and unpredictable plane.
Pandemonium Plane of Windswept Depths Chaotic evil/chaotic neutral An infinite network of pitch-black catacombs, with winds that drive men mad.
The Abyss Plane of Infinite Layers Chaotic evil Evil lands of shocking perversity and unpredictable horror.
Carceri Tarterus, Tartarus Neutral evil/chaotic evil Liars, cheats and traitors are imprisoned here by their own deceptions.
  • Nerull - God of murder and darkness
  • Demodands (Gehreleth)
  • Yugoloths - presence largely confined to Othrys
  • Titans exiled from Olympus
The Gray Waste Hades Neutral evil Here, all emotion and compassion is drained away, until only hopelessness, selfishness and apathy remain as devils and demons meet and clash in a colorless expanse.
  • Yugoloths (Daemons)
  • Demons and devils fight the Blood War on this plane
  • Abbathor - Dwarven god of greed.
  • Grey Sisters (night hags)
  • Hades - Greek god of Death and the Underworld. Believed to be the most powerful deity on the plane.
  • Mydianchlarus - Current Oinoloth of Khin-Oin.
  • Iggwilv - Witch Queen of Perrenland, mother of the demigod Iuz. Infamous author of the blasphemous Demonomicon. The true idenity of Tasha, member of the infamous adventuring group known as the Company of Seven.
Gehenna Plane of Bleak Eternity Neutral evil/lawful evil Volcanic realm of evil schemes and merciless cliffs.
Baator Hell; The Nine Hells Lawful evil A realm of oppression, torment, and diabolical plots
Acheron The Infernal Battlefield Lawful neutral /lawful evil A plane of constant, pointless war, where identity is forever lost.
Mechanus Clockwork Nirvana Lawful neutral This clockwork plane is the ultimate in order; scholars and constructs live here.
Arcadia The Land of Perfect Order, Plane of Peaceable Kingdoms Lawful neutral/lawful good A peaceful place where all live in harmony; consequently, it is quite dull.
Mount Celestia The Seven Heavens Lawful good Countless paladins and saints have ascended here.
Bytopia Twin Paradises Neutral good/lawful good Gnomes and other industrious folk dwell here.
The Outlands Plane of Concordant Opposition Neutral The plane between all other outer planes.

Alternative theories

Theories of organization of the Outer Planes vary according to culture. Suel barbarian lands might see the plane of Ysgard as dominant over all others, in accordance with the importance they ascribe their god Kord there. Some of the lands of Oerik west of the Baklunish Basin see the planes not as separate regions, but as a single mass throughout which are scattered different agencies of the Celestial Bureaucracy, with the Celestial Emperor residing on one plane, and his Minister of State on another.

In the 4th edition of the Dungeons & Dragons game, the Outer Planes have been replaced with (or renamed as) the Astral Dominions in the Astral Sea.

See also

Bibliography

  • Richard Baker, Rob Heinsoo, and James Wyatt. Manual of the Planes. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2008.
  • Cook, David "Zeb" Dungeon Master's Guide. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1989.
  • -----. Planescape Campaign Setting. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1994.
  • Cook, Monte. Dungeon Master's Guide v. 3.5. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2003.
  • -----. The Planewalker's Handbook. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1996.
  • Grubb, Jeff. A Player's Primer to the Outlands. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1995.
  • -----.Manual of the Planes. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1987.
  • Gygax, Gary. Players Handbook. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1978.
  • Laws, Robin D. and Robert J. Schwalb. Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2006.
  • McComb, Colin. Faces of Evil: The Fiends. Renton, WA: TSR, 1997.
  • -----. On Hallowed Ground. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1996.
  • McComb, Colin, and Monte Cook. Hellbound: The Blood War. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1996.
  • McComb, Colin, Dale Donovan, and Monte Cook. Planes of Conflict. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1995.
  • McComb, Colin, and Wolfgang Baur. Planes of Law. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1995.
  • Pramas, Chris. Guide to Hell. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 1999.
  • -----. The Vortex of Madness. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2000.
  • Smith, Lester W., and Wolfgang Baur. Planes of Chaos. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1994.